Transgender Approximately 1.4million adults identify as transgender, but about a quarter of themdon't look for medical help when they need it because they worryabout potential discrimination from providers. (Photo:Shutterstock)

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In a broader outreach to physicians outside the field ofendocrinology, the American College of Physicians has issued its first guidelines on the care oftransgender patients.

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As reported by Stat, these guidelines expand on those issuedat least 10 years ago aimed primarily at endocrinologists,who were generally considered the appropriate specialty to care fortransgender patients. The new guidelines instead target “yourcritical mass of general internal medicine people who are primarycare providers and also people who are family medicine doctors,”says Dr. Joshua Safer, professor of endocrinology and executivedirector of the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine andSurgery in New York City.

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Related: Companies beefing up benefits for transgenderworkers

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Safer adds that although it is within the scope of the practicesof internal medicine and family physicians, “The biggest barrier tocare reported by transgender people is lack of knowledgeableproviders.”

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Considering that approximately 1.4 million adults identify astransgender, the need for additional knowledgeable doctors becomesobvious—particularly when, as the report says, about a quarter ofthem don't look for medical help when they need it because theyworry about potential discrimination from providers.

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Or that they also end up being the ones to educate providersabout their health care—something, according to GillianBranstetter, spokesperson for the National Center for TransgenderEquality, an advocacy group, more than half of them end up doing.Branstetter was cited praising the new guidelines that emphasizethe need for primary care providers to become educated on thematter because of that very circumstance.

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The guidelines also point out that, in addition to theappropriate diagnostic knowledge, the need for transgenderfacilities must be considered—as well as the need to train officestaff to be properly trained and the need for patient medicalrecords to be more inclusive to accommodate transgenderpatients.

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Lest doctors think those needs don't apply to them, they mightwant to consider the words of Dr. Frederic Ettner, a familymedicine physician in Lincolnwood, Ill., who has been seeingtransgender patients for more than a decade. Says Ettner, “Ifyou're seeing 5,000 patients in a year, knowingly or unknowinglyyou're going to see a couple dozen gender diverse people. You maybe up to speed in rare cancers that you may not see but once infive years. You're seeing gender diverse people all the time.”

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.