What is Gender-affirming Healthcare?

At some point, everyone will seek out healthcare or a form of medical treatment in their lifetime.

At some point, everyone will seek out healthcare or a form of medical treatment in their lifetime.

For example, a senior citizen might need to have hip replacement surgery while a younger woman may want to enhance her breasts via breast augmentation to feel more confident.

Speaking of feeling better about oneself many transgender people seek out gender-affirming healthcare, often referred to as interventions when they are ready. Some opt for various procedures while others opt for zero.

Meaning of Trans

The word “transgender” – or trans –“is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from the sex assigned to us at birth. Although the word “transgender” and our modern definition of it only came into use in the late 20th century, people who would fit under this definition have existed in every culture throughout recorded history.”

This is a population that is growing and according to a 2016 study by the Williams Institute at the School of Law at UCLA, there are 1.4 million adults who identify as transgender.

And about 0.8 percent of the adult population identifying as transgender is in Hawaii, California, Georgia, and New Mexico as opposed to 0.3 percent in North Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming, and South Dakota.

Additionally, 0.5 percent of adults 65 and older identify as transgender while 0.7 percent of youth between 13 and 17 identify as transgender, according to the study.


Gender-affirming healthcare or interventions, include, “hormone therapy, surgery, facial hair removal, interventions for the modification of speech and communication, and behavioral adaptations such as genital tucking or packing, or chest binding.”

According to the website, these procedures are defined as medically necessary by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health..

The website also states gender-affirming healthcare is the standard of care by nearly every major medical association in the United States, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Psychiatric Association.

Whenever something is deemed “medically necessary,” it means this care is evidence-based and supported by science, states the website

The Plume website that helps transgender people in various ways says, “Such care greatly improves health outcomes for our community. When we get the care we need, the high rates of depression, anxiety, and a suicide attempt that burden our community decrease substantially. We are so much healthier than providing gender-affirming care is cost-effective compared to the costs associated with denying affirming treatment.”

Medical Interventions Examples

Considered the foremost gender-affirming medical intervention hormone therapy is sought by transgender people of various ages. “This treatment allows the acquisition of secondary sex characteristics more aligned with an individual’s gender identity.”

Surgical Interventions Examples

There is various gender-affirming surgeries also available to transgender people and include surgeries specific to gender affirmation, as well as procedures typically performed in non-transgender populations.

An overview of gender-affirming treatments and procedures as written in a report in 2016 by primary authors Madeline B. Deutsch, MD, MPH, offers these examples of surgeries specific to transgender populations:

Feminizing vaginoplasty

Masculinizing phalloplasty / scrotoplasty

Metoidioplasty (clitoral release/enlargement, may include urethral lengthening

Masculinizing chest surgery (“top” surgery)

Facial feminization procedures

Reduction thyrochondroplasty (tracheal cartilage shave)

Voice surgery

Surgeries not specific to transgender populations:

Augmentation mammoplasty




Other Interventions:

Facial hair removal

Voice modification

Genital tucking and packing, and chest binding

The Diverse Transgender Community

The HRC Foundation says this about the transgender community:

“Transgender people come from all walks of life, and HRC Foundation has estimated that there are more than 2 million of us across the United States. We are parents, siblings, and kids. We are your coworkers, your neighbors, and your friends. We are 7-year-old children and 70-year-old grandparents. We are a diverse community, representing all racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as all faith traditions.”


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