Transgender individuals face many obstacles when it comes to receiving healthcare. Not only do these individuals face burdens in their everyday life but they also face it when trying to get healthcare. A huge burden that they face is their lack of access to healthcare. The transgender population requires medical intervention such as hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery. However, many transgender individuals report that there is a lack of healthcare providers that are experts in the field of transgender medicine. This is the main reason for the lack of access to care. There are not enough doctors for the transgender population that are ready to transition. In addition, transgender medicine is not taught in conventional medical curriculum. So, there is not enough physicians with the knowledge needed to care for this population. This burden impacts the decision transgender individuals make when deciding on whether to seek healthcare. This is an ethical issue because the transgender population is not receiving adequate care (Safer et al., 2016).
They are being treated differently from the general population when they should not be. Doctors should be receiving the education that is required to treat these patients. Transgender patients should be able to enter their physician’s office knowing that they are going to be treated just like everybody else. However, that is not the case. Another condition that plays into this issue is the health care insurances who do not cover the costs of cross-sex hormone therapy, or gender affirmation surgery (Women’s Health Care Physicians). This causes many individuals to lack access to resources that could help them. This is another huge challenge that is faced by transgender individuals because they cannot transition to the gender they truly are.
The consequences of failing to receive adequate treatment are shocking. Forty-one percent of transgender youth have attempted suicide and twenty-one percent have self-mutilated. As high as 50% of transgender individuals have used injected hormones they obtained illegally and/or outside a medical setting. Also, many transgenders report using illegal and unsafe self-administering silicone injections to try to obtain a more feminine or masculine appearance (Women’s Health Care Physicians). Many of the transgender population is engaging in life threatening behavior when they should not have to be! Our job as nurses is to ensure every patient is receiving the best healthcare providable. This is a challenge because others in the healthcare field may not feel the same way when it comes to this population. How does a nurse advocate for a transgender patient when the higher helping hand refuses to listen? It is our job to educate ourselves on the needs of transgender patients; but again, there is a lack of knowledge. As a nurse we must always put aside our personal beliefs and sometimes this can be a challenge for the ones that don’t agree with being transgender. However, the patient is the most important part.
So, what are the consequences of one’s values and beliefs on personal and professional practice when they don’t agree on providing care for the transgender population? First, a large portion of the population will not receive the care that they need. Because of this many will feel their only option is to obtain the drugs they need illegally and could potentially die. Ones personal beliefs should not get in the way of the care they provide. It is hard to imagine how someone knowingly could provide inadequate healthcare. It would remove the whole point of being a healthcare provider if they refuse to not provide for all populations. I believe all people no matter who they are should receive the care that they need. They are human beings and deserve to be treated.
Working under these beliefs would ensure that every transgender patient that I encountered would receive the care that they need. No matter how big or how small, I would advocate for them and make sure their needs were met. Personally, I would know that I am helping others and keeping them from having to do anything that could hurt them. Professionally, I would be providing care that is adequate, safe, and has the patient as the first priority. However, despite feeling strongly in the need for everyone to be treated equally I know that I lack all the knowledge I need to fully help a transgender patient. I have no idea what the patient is going through daily and how it affects them. I must make sure that I educate myself, so I will be able to help the best I can. I must put myself in their shoes to understand them better.
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