World Medical Association Presses for Transgender Equality

The international group, which represents 111 national medical groups, issued new guidelines rejecting discrimination against transgender people when it comes to providing medical care.

A group of international medical groups last week issued new guidelines to foster greater understanding and sensitivity among physicians towards transgender people.

Announced at the annual meeting of the World Medical Association (WMA) in Moscow, the new guidelines stated that transgender healthcare should aim to provide the “best possible quality of life” and should not force modifications in behavior or personal choice among transgender people.

“We condemn all forms of discrimination, stigmatization, and violence against transgender people and want to see appropriate legal measures to protect their equal civil rights,” WMA President Michael Marmot said in a statement. “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.”

WMA, whose members include 111 national medical associations, including the American Medical Association, also stated that being transgender is not a mental disorder and that various cultural, political, and religious orientations throughout the world should not impede the rights and well-being of transgender people.

Groups in the United States are also advocating for greater healthcare rights for transgender people, given that some health insurance companies are denying coverage for gender-reassignment surgeries. Despite federal legislation outlawing discrimination, some transgender people say they are told that being transgender is a pre-existing condition and that their insurance policies do not cover it. And, if the insurance company does cover reassignment surgeries and medicine, it often doesn’t cover enough of the cost.

“When healthcare really stresses biology, it leaves a large portion of us out,” Nell Gaither, president of the Trans Pride Initiative, told The Dallas Morning News. “Our lives depend on medical intervention. One way or another, we’ll figure out how to get the treatment we need.”

Because many health insurance companies also require individuals to check a single gender box when they enroll in a plan, people who transition and still have organs associated with their former gender often may not receive necessary services.

“The idea that you have insurance and you’re still being denied basic care is outrageous,” Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Senior Legislative Counsel Robin Maril told CNN.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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