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Working with transsexual patients

A lack of training and knowledge can cause embarrassment to doctors and patients

  • By: Juliet Jacques
  • Published: 21 December 2010
  • DOI: 10.1136/sbmj.c6769
  • Cite this as: Student BMJ 2010;18:c6769

Transsexual people are one of the most poorly understood groups in society. There aren’t many of them—in 2008, the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) estimated that there were just 6200 transsexual people in Britain, so many medics will not know anyone who has begun the process of gender reassignment. In Britain more people are deciding to transition than ever before, and they are increasingly making the decision at a younger age.

Plenty of transsexual people prefer to live in “stealth,” so the job of explaining transgender issues often falls to the media, which often ridicules, fetishises, or demonises transsexual people rather than showing them as people with physical and psychological needs.

The main concerns of transsexual people are medical, and general practitioners (GPs) play a crucial role in helping them with their gender dysphoria (that is, the sense that they live in the “wrong” body). The good

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