It has been difficult for transgender patients to get the healthcare they need in a variety of areas including hormones, sexual health, etc. Because there is discrimination and stigma around transgender patients, many choose not to seek medical care and instead attempt unsafe procedures such as DIY hormones (“Sketchy Pharmacies are Selling Hormones to Transgender People”). Others choose not to seek healthcare because it is so costly and insurance is difficult to attain due to discrimination or does not cover the costs of transitioning.
There have been a couple of articles I’ve found that speak of the role pharmacists have in transgender persons’ health and what pharmacists can do if they do have transgender patients. Overall, the training of healthcare providers in transgender health has been minimal, if any at all. It is important that pharmacists, though not healthcare providers, should also receive training in addressing transgender patients with respect, knowledge, and kindness. From my (limited) experience in college and on a pharmacy track, I have not seen transgender patients/health as even a small segment in my lectures or anything related to my profession. I had to Google search to come up with anything linking pharmacists and transgender patients. I wanted to write this blog post to inform future pharmacists – whether people of my class or not, current pharmacists, and possibly anyone in the healthcare profession, of basic courtesy and possible steps to ensure the comfort of their patient(s).
- Pharmacy is very patient-focused and thus the care and satisfaction of the patient is crucial. Always ask for preferred pronouns and any preferred name. Transgender patients often understand that their name on their medical records cannot be changed unless legally changed, so confirming both their legal name as well as preferred name is ideal.
- If in the case of calling a patient in from a waiting room, using last names is a great way to be discreet as well as inclusive.
- If you are transferring the patient to different personnel, try to be polite in informing them about the preferred name and pronouns. This may be through a note written on the paper/electronic medical records or in private conversation beforehand.
- Asking questions that are not pertinent to your counseling is already ill-advised, thus questions about their personal life (even when just out of curiosity) are not acceptable. This also is a no-brainer when discussing anything about your patients to others that are not a part of your patients’ healthcare team.
- Inform yourself about transgender persons and the transition steps they make take so that your care for the patient is as up-to-date as possible.
- Create an open and accepting environment within your pharmacy. Let your staff know that discrimination is not tolerated.
No matter what, patients deserve respect and transgender patients are not excluded. Treat them as you would any other patient and be understanding of all situations.
Other articles you can read if you’d like more in-depth information on the relationship between pharmacists and transgender patients:
- “The Need for Transgender Health Content in the Pharmacy Curriculum”
- “Pharmacists caring for transgender persons”