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Network Matters
News and Information for the
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Network

March 2017

The Foundation’s Report on Transgender Health Care in Greater Boston


The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, through its Health Equity Roundtable initiative, has released a report that assesses the availability of health care resources for transgender individuals in Greater Boston, and offers some recommendations to improve the system.

The report, which was authored by Shani Dowd, Director of the Health Equity Roundtable and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Medical School, was based on a roundtable discussion that included transgender men, women, and youth, as well as parents, advocates, and clinicians. It addresses many issues that transgender patients currently face, such as the shortage of clinicians trained to provide care to transgender individuals, the especially long wait times resulting from this shortage of options, and the need for more research into health issues important to members of the trans community. Participants in the roundtable discussion cited a lack of knowledge about potential interactions between drugs used in hormone treatments and those used to treat other health conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes; a lack of research on issues affecting aging trans men and women; and difficulty getting referrals for care.

“We hope that by sharing this information with other health care professionals, we can begin to get a better understanding of the issues and create positive change and greater equity for all,” said Dowd, who worked with senior leaders at Harvard Pilgrim on this project.

The report offers a host of recommendations to improve the system, including:

  • Integrating basic knowledge of transgender health needs into medical, nursing and other clinical training
  • Educating practicing clinicians on transhealth
  • Encouraging provider networks to list trans-competent providers
  • Developing acuity indicators to accompany the diagnosis of gender dysphoria to permit tracking and quality assessment of patients all along the gender continuum
  • Developing protocols for inpatient settings to safely accommodate transgender, gender queer and non-binary patients

For more information, you can read the full report or the executive summary on the Foundation’s webpage. Two additional roundtables on transgender health care are expected to be held in the coming year.

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