What Surgeons Need to Know About Gender Confirmation Surgery When Providing Care for Transgender Individuals: A Review

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Abstract

Importance

In 2014, the US Department of Health and Human Services decided that its 1981 exclusion of transsexual surgical treatments from Medicare coverage was based on outdated, incomplete, and biased science and did not reflect current evidence or standards of care, and the exclusion was therefore lifted. As a direct result of this decision, surgeons nationwide are seeing an increase in consultations for surgical therapy to help transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. Although some clinicians may have the technical training for such surgical procedures, in many cases, they may not have a full understanding of the complex and comprehensive care required to provide optimal health care for transgender individuals.

Observations

Gender confirmation surgery is a developing field in the United States and other areas of the world. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health started a global education initiative intended to provide surgeons and other health care professionals with the necessary background knowledge to understand and treat this patient population. This article provides an overview of best practices as set forth in the seventh edition of the Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, including mental health, endocrinology, and surgery for trans women and trans men.

Conclusions and Relevance

Experts in each aspect of transgender health have summarized the content of the global education initiative in this article. It provides valuable information to surgeons of all disciplines and other health care professionals to help guide the treatment and management of transgender individuals.

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