New guidelines for physicians to enable them to increase their knowledge and sensitivity towards transgender people and the unique health issues they face have been approved by the World Medical Association.
At its annual General Assembly in Moscow, the WMA emphasised that everyone has the right to determine their own gender and that gender incongruence is not in itself a mental disorder. Delegates from almost 60 national medical associations agreed that every effort should be made to make individualised, multi-professional, interdisciplinary and affordable transgender healthcare available to all people who experience gender incongruence. They approved guidelines explicitly rejecting any form of coercive treatment or forced behaviour modification and said that transgender healthcare aims to enable transgender people to have the best possible quality of life.
The guidelines were proposed by the German Medical Association, which said they acknowledged the inequities faced by the transgender community and the crucial role played by physicians in advising transgender people and their families about treatment.
Delegates said they were aware of the cultural sensitivities in some parts of the world about this issue, but also said it was important for the WMA to stress that cultural, political or religious considerations must not take precedence over the rights, health and well-being of transgender people.
WMA President, Sir Michael Marmot, said: ‘We condemn all forms of discrimination, stigmatisation and violence against transgender people and want to see appropriate legal measures to protect their equal civil rights. And as role models, physicians should use their medical knowledge to combat prejudice in this respect. We would like national medical associations to take action to identify and combat barriers to care.
‘It is important that there is appropriate expert training for physicians at all stages of their career to enable them to recognise and avoid discriminatory practices, and to provide appropriate and sensitive transgender healthcare.’