The nation’s largest association of physicians and medical students this week adopted policies to promote the health and safety of transgender people.
For transgender patients, routine medical checkups are often anything but. Stigmas, misgendering, and the lack of gender identity options on intake forms can create experiences so negative that some transgender people actively avoid medical care.
But with the passage of several trans-supportive resolutions this week, the American Medical Association has taken steps to turn things around. The policies, adopted by the AMA’s 555-person House of Delegates during its 2017 Annual Conference, recognize that gender “isn’t completely understood as a binary selection” and encourage the association to “inform and educate the medical community and the public on the medical spectrum of gender identity.”
Harper Jean Tobin, policy director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, praised the action in an interview with The Daily Beast. “The AMA’s recognition that gender is not binary reflects today’s medical consensus and underscores that all people deserve respect, including transgender men and women, as well as those whose gender is not male or female,” Tobin said.
The House of Delegates also approved a resolution opposing efforts to block transgender people’s access to “basic human services and public facilities in line with one’s gender identity.” That action takes aim at anti-transgender “bathroom bills” like the one that will be voted on in Texas during a special legislative session scheduled for July.
“Laws and policies that restrict the use of public facilities based on biological gender can have immediate and lingering physical consequences, as well as severe mental health repercussions,” explained Dr. Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, a member of the AMA Board of Trustees, in an article on AMA Wire.
In a statement released Tuesday, a representative from the Human Rights Campaign expressed support for AMA’s action. “HRC welcomes this week’s resolutions by the AMA that underscore the need for inclusive, affirming policies to ensure transgender people’s well-being, safety, and health,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC’s senior vice president for programs, research, and training.
According to AMA Wire, the association also voted to work with the Food and Drug Administration to create a gender-neutral way to categorize patients in risk evaluation and mitigation strategies (known as REMS), which the FDA requires from drug manufacturers seeking approval of new products. “The idea is to take the focus away from gender identity and place it on reproductive potential,” AMA Wire reported. “That is because there are patients who identify as male who may be taking medication that puts them at risk for damage to their biologically female reproductive systems.”
Lastly, the House of Delegates resolved to hold future AMA meetings, whenever possible, in “only in those counties, cities, and states that have nondiscriminatory policies.”