What do I need to know about trans and nonbinary health care?
Transgender and nonbinary people have the same basic health care needs as cisgender people. They might also have gender-affirming health care needs and require trans-competent care.
Trans and nonbinary people always deserve to be treated respectfully when they get health care, whether it’s specific to gender or not.
What kinds of health care and services do I need if I’m transgender or nonbinary?
All people share certain health care needs — like annual checkups, and, for those who've had sexual contact, STD testing.
If you’re transgender or nonbinary, you may also have gender-related health care concerns and needs.
Because gender-affirming treatments like hormones and surgery improve trans and nonbinary people’s health, they are called “medically necessary.” They can help decrease gender dysphoria and/or increase gender euphoria.
Sometimes, you need a formal diagnosis of gender dysphoria to get gender-affirming health care. You can be medically diagnosed with gender dysphoria if your feelings have a big impact on your life.
Gender-affirming procedures can be an important part of transitioning for those who want and can get them.
Gender-affirming treatments might include:
- gender-affirming hormone treatment to change some of your secondary sex characteristics;
- professional voice training or voice therapy;
- top surgery to change the shape of your chest;
- bottom surgery to change your genitals; and
- facial surgeries.
The kinds of services you need will depend on what feels right for you. Not all transgender and nonbinary people need or want the same treatments.
Where can I get safe gender-affirming medical care?
It’s important to find nurses and doctors who can give you the gender-affirming care you need. If you want to transition medically by using hormones or having surgery, get care from a trustworthy nurse or doctor.
Getting hormones from a nurse or doctor who can monitor your health is the safest and most effective way to take hormones — taking too many or too few hormones can have unwanted effects.
How hard is it to get gender-affirming care?
Unfortunately, gender-affirming hormone therapy or surgeries may not be easy to access — they can be expensive and may not be covered by insurance. Cost and insurance coverage often vary by treatment, what insurance you have, and where you live. If you’re under 18, you’ll likely need a parent or legal guardian’s permission to get them. Sometimes finding a nurse or doctor who offers these treatments can be more difficult depending on where you live.
What about going outside the health care system?
Because it can be difficult to find a nurse or doctor to provide gender-affirming care, some people use hormones from places other than a nurse or doctor. Using hormones without talking with a nurse or doctor can increase your risk for blood clots, high blood pressure, liver disease, and other serious complications. Nurses and doctors also teach you how to do injections safely and use sterile needles and syringes. Otherwise, you could increase your risk for HIV, hepatitis, and other infections.
Transgender and nonbinary people who want to make parts of their bodies fuller — like their lips, hips, and butt — and can’t access surgeries may find people who aren’t nurses or doctors to inject “street” silicone into their bodies. Street silicone might give your body more curves, but it’s very dangerous and can lead to negative reactions or sometimes death. Some people who inject street silicone eventually need to have it removed by a doctor.
You deserve safe health care. To find an affordable trans-competent nurse or doctor, do an internet search, ask trans and nonbinary people in your community, or talk to someone from a local LGBTQ+ community organization.
What if I’m afraid of how doctors will treat me?
It’s understandable if going to the doctor feels unsafe or uncomfortable, or if you worry about revealing your gender identity or gender modality. Accessing respectful health care can be challenging. Many transgender and nonbinary people experience discrimination and poor quality of care. Some nurses, doctors, and other medical workers aren’t sensitive to trans issues nor informed on transgender people’s health care needs.
You deserve to be treated well and seen for who you are when you see a doctor or nurse. Know that the staff at your nearest Planned Parenthood health center believes you deserve high-quality, compassionate health care that’s appropriate for your needs — no matter your gender identity.
What health services can Planned Parenthood give me if I’m transgender and/or nonbinary?
Planned Parenthood health centers serve people of all genders. Anyone can visit their nearest Planned Parenthood health center for STD testing, birth control, physical exams, other sexual and reproductive health services, and referrals. Find your nearest Planned Parenthood health center and learn about the services it offers.
Many Planned Parenthood health centers are able to offer gender-affirming hormone treatment (sometimes called GAHT). The best way to learn about the services available in your area is to contact your nearest Planned Parenthood health center.
If your closest Planned Parenthood health center doesn’t offer gender-affirming hormone treatments, and you want them to, you can tell them. Hearing from patients helps your nearest Planned Parenthood add services that you need. They may be able to recommend a trans-friendly doctor in your area who provides the services you need.