At Clue, we often receive requests for help from people who are nervous about going to the gynecologist because they are transgender, non-binary or gender non-conforming. Over time, we’ve collected lots of useful tips and information, so we decided to share them here.
If you have a vagina, a cervix or breast tissue, it’s important to make regular visits to a gynecologist—regardless of your gender or sexuality. Your gynecologist can provide cancer screening, sexual health checkups and safer sex advice. There’s nothing about this that has to be particularly gendered in order to get the job done.
Unfortunately, finding adequate medical care is a huge issue for trans people. A study by Gretchen P. Kenagy in Philadelphia found that 26% of respondents had been denied healthcare because they were transgender, and 52% of respondents had difficulty accessing health services (1). A survey of young transgender and genderqueer Canadians found that a third of respondents aged 14–18 and half of those aged 19–25 missed needed physical health care. Only 15% of respondents with a family doctor felt very comfortable discussing transgender issues with them (2).
If you currently have a gynecologist with whom you feel comfortable, coming out to them is an important step to being healthy. Being open about your sexual orientation, sexual behavior and gender identity means that your provider will be able to offer care that is personalized and relevant to you. Bring a friend for support if you want to. Tell your healthcare provider your pronouns and the names you prefer that they use for your body parts. They should respect this and start to use your preferred terms.
If your gynecologist is not understanding, or your don’t feel comfortable with them, find a new one — there are several ways to find a provider with whom you connect. To start, ask people you trust for recommendations. Friends, local support organizations and online forums are all good sources for this information. You might want to ask another healthcare provider with whom you had a good experience.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health offers a list of recommended healthcare providers worldwide, and there are many more organizations working at a local level. If you’re based in South Africa, there is Gender Dynamix, or in India: The Sahodari Foundation. ANZPATH has information for people in Australia and New Zealand and Action for Trans Health for those in the UK and Ireland. In the US and Canada you could try MyTransHealth, Rad Remedy or The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.
Remember, your health is important. When you visit your healthcare provider, you deserve to be addressed with the correct name and gender, and treated with respect and dignity — both by your physician and by the other staff.
In the next blog post in this series, we’ll go over what to expect at your appointment, and advice for making it a more comfortable experience. Let us know if we missed something or if you have any tips to share.
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