Advice line: CSP’s new guidance on transgender issues

Jess Belmonte outlines the CSP’s new guidance on transgender issues.

Society divides us into male and female at birth depending on our biological appearance. But, for some, that label feels overwhelmingly wrong and at odds with the gender of the person they feel inside.  
No one takes the decision to live in the opposite gender lightly. Prejudice and hate crime against transgender (or ‘trans’) individuals remains common, along with high levels of anxiety and depression.
The 2012 Trans Mental Health Survey found that 35 per cent of Tran’s individuals had attempted suicide once, with a further 25 per cent attempting it for a second time.
Physiotherapists and support workers are well placed to challenge discrimination against transgender patients and ensure that their services are welcoming and inclusive. This does not need to be difficult or expensive, as a few thoughtful steps can make a real difference.
  • The correct use of personal pronouns (‘he’ and ‘she’) is essential. If you are not sure how someone would like to be addressed then ask them. Refer to them in their preferred gender, name and title even when you are not in their presence.
  • Small changes can be made to the department. This may include having positive images of transgender patients on posters, reassigning single cubicle toilets as unisex and ensuring that changing facilities have some private spaces. 
  • When assessing and treating Tran’s patients, it is important to bear in mind that hormone treatment can have side effects such an increased risk of thrombosis. 
  • Patients who are in transition (moving to their preferred gender) may be wearing body contouring clothing which may change how you carry out physiotherapy treatment.
  • CSP members should challenge transphobic language such as name calling, jokes and ‘banter’ from both staff and patients. 
  • For more detailed information on this and other key issues for physiotherapists, see the new CSP guidance: Physiotherapy treatment of transgender patients. 

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