According to federal and state data, there are at least 1.4 million adults in the U.S. who identify as transgender. And while American society is becoming more accepting of transgender people, such adults still face substantial difficulties when they seek to have their health-care needs met.
Kristie Overstreet, Ph.D. points out, “Transgender patients face discrimination and lack of understanding, which results in their receiving minimal care due to providers not feeling competent and confident in treating them. Understandably, many transgender individuals avoid going to the doctor or hospital because they fear being judged, dismissed or having their needs ignored.” Moreover, lawsuits have been brought by transgender patients who were denied care or traumatized by how that care was delivered.
Concerned about this serious problem, Overstreet, a clinical sexologist and psychotherapist who specializes in transgender issues, has developed the first course to offer certification to doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, physical therapists and other professionals who work with transgender patients from a dignity perspective. Available online and onsite, the three-hour Transgender Healthcare Dignity Model Training & Certification Program has been available to providers since September.
Overstreet says, “In one 2015 study, 72 percent of providers said they didn’t feel well-informed on the health-care needs of LGBT patients. Can you imagine how much higher that percentage would be if it were just for transgender patients?” Their confusion is understandable given that the average medical student receives just five hours of LGBT health-care training in medical school.
The course’s $175 fee is expected to increase in 2018. A one-year certification is free with training although individuals need to apply for certification after training is completed. Those who complete the course will also receive a certificate designating them as a Dignity Model Certified Provider (DMCP); an electronic seal to use on social media and websites; a lapel pin designating their certification, free access to a monthly video or phone chat with Overstreet; and unlimited access to resources including videos, best practices, referrals and links.