Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Patient Experiences at a Family Medicine Clinic

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Transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) patients have a wide array of often negative experiences when accessing health care, and may encounter insensitive or subcompetent care; thus, the authors conducted a qualitative study with patients at one family medicine residency clinic to assess how primary care clinics can improve care for TGNC patients.


In 2015, the authors held three separate focus groups at Smiley’s Family Medicine Clinic in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They invited diverse TGNC participants who have accessed TGNC-related and/or primary care at Smiley’s. The authors analyzed and coded data using a grounded theory approach with NVivo10 (QSR). The authors also administered short demographic questionnaires and analyzed the results with REDCap.


Twenty-three patients participated in the focus groups, and 22 completed the survey. Gender identities among the participants were diverse. Four main themes emerged: (1) shared negative experiences with health care, (2) the need for sensitive and inclusive primary care, (3) defining TGNC-sensitive care, and (4) the challenges of mainstreaming TGNC-competent care into primary care settings.


Providing sensitive and competent primary care to TGNC patients involves allowing patients to self-identify, respecting the gender identities of every patient, and focusing on the whole person—not the trans status of the patient. Education and training on TGNC care at a clinic-wide level is needed.

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