The World Medical Association (WMA) has adopted new guidelines for doctors to improve their approach towards transgender people and their unique health needs.
Delegates from almost 60 national medical associations agreed at the organisation’s General Assembly in Moscow that every effort should be made to make individualised, multi-professional, interdisciplinary and affordable transgender healthcare available to all people who experience gender incongruence.
The WMA, which represents more than ten million physicians around the world, also asserted that everyone has the right to determine their own gender and that gender incongruence is not in itself a mental disorder.
The organisation 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.
Delegates said they were aware of the cultural sensitivities in some parts of the world about this issue, but stated that 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.
‘”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,” commented WMA President, Sir Michael Marmot.
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.
“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,” said Marmot.
He added that, “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.”