Pharmacotherapy Considerations in the Management of Transgender Patients: A Brief Review

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Transgender and transsexual individuals have unique health care needs and risks compared with the population at large. It is estimated that 1 in 100,000 individuals in the United States is a transgender woman and 1 in 400,000 is a transgender man, although these estimates of prevalence are likely conservative. Transgender individuals are at an increased risk of tobacco, alcohol, and substance abuse; they have an increased lifetime suicide attempt risk; and they are more likely to experience significant stressors in their lives. Transgender patients may elect to transition their appearance to the gender with which they identify. Hormone treatment (and possibly sex reassignment surgery) is a significant part of this transition, and pharmacists must understand the pharmacotherapeutic principles involved so they can better recommend therapeutic agents, provide dosing recommendations, and anticipate and manage adverse effects. It is critical to be culturally sensitive when providing care for transgender patients including using their preferred gender identity, preferred names, and preferred pronouns. It is also essential to be able to identify transgender and transsexual patients correctly within electronic health records to ensure that appropriate care and monitoring are provided. For pharmacists, this means they should know the biologic sex for performing calculations such as creatinine clearance and to prevent teratogenic agents from reaching a transgender or transsexual man who could be pregnant or is capable of becoming pregnant. Promoting knowledge of transgender health issues will enable pharmacists to provide better, more holistic care to their transgender patients.

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