If you’ve ever wondered “Why is it so difficult to find a transgender doctor near me?”, you’re not alone.
For trans individuals and other members of the LGBTQ+ community, finding a quality health care provider can be a challenge.
Truly excellent doctors are rare, and doctors who are sensitive to trans issues are rarer still.
In addition to experience with their personal needs and unique experiences, many people who aren’t cisgender or heterosexual require a physician whom they can trust to be nondiscriminatory.
However, difficult doesn’t mean impossible. Read on to learn how you can find a competent transgender doctor near you who understands transgender issues and will act as your ally.
Who’s the Best Transgender Doctor Near Me? Use These 5 Tips to Learn the Answer
#1: Consult These Web Directories
You can use online services to search for transgender doctors near you. The best strategy is to make a thorough list of all the promising physicians in your region, then narrow it down later.
Here are the best free online directories to track down transgender doctors near you, and other providers who are sensitive to the needs of trans people and other members of the LGBTQ+ community:
- Transcaresite.org’s Transgender Care Listings provides thorough listings of health care providers specializing in trans issues.
- My Trans Health “helps trans people navigate obstacles,” allowing them access to adequate medical care.
- The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) has a list of LGBTQ+-friendly providers
- RAD Remedy offers a searchable database to connect trans, gender non-conforming, intersex, and queer individuals to caregivers.
- The Human Rights Campaign’s 2018 Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) ranks 626 medical facilities across the nation based on patient-oriented care for LGBTQ+ people.
- Psychology Today offers a free search tool to find transgender psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists.
No website is perfect, but it’s certainly the easiest way to begin your search.
#2: When In Doubt, Ask
Should you find online directories less than helpful, word of mouth is a very effective way to find a doctor who’s sensitive to trans issues.
If you have acquaintances with similar needs to yours, that’s a great place to begin. If not, consider joining Facebook groups or other online communities where people who share your experience congregate.
Depending on your comfort level, you can also call a doctor’s office directly. Because they are required by law to provide care without overtly discriminating, it’s important to dig deeper than a yes or no question like “do you provide transgender care?”
Instead, you could inquire whether they specialize in trans issues, or request more information about their experience level. You can also tell a lot from the tone of the office staff. If it’s not a fit, consider asking the office staff for a recommendation to a trans-friendly provider.
Before you schedule an appointment, it’s essential to figure out if a provider accepts your insurance. You can call the office directly, or you can use the
HealthCare.gov Marketplace directory to see which doctors your plan covers.
#3: Do a Background Check
By this stage, hopefully you’ve got a list of several transgender doctors near you who fit your criteria. Now it’s time to narrow down your candidates.
Although most people never look into their doctor’s history and background, it can save you time and grief and prevent serious medical mishaps.
The internet offers many free resources to find medical education and licensure, disciplinary actions, malpractice claims, surgical complication rates (for surgeons), and board certification info.
Doing a background check on a health care provider can be time-consuming, but choosing a physician is a vital medical decision. It’s definitely worth the effort.
Use these tools to learn more about licensure and education and discover any disciplinary actions:
- The DocFinder tool from the Administrators in Medicine (AIM)
- The Castle Connolly website also offers a disciplinary search.
- DocInfo sometimes shows results not found on other sites.
The Federation of State Medical Boards website lists medical boards state-by-state. Your state’s medical board website may show pending actions or other results that don’t show up in national databases. You can also contact them via email or telephone if you can’t find a doctor’s record.
Often, malpractice claims will show up alongside other records. But if you want to be extra-thorough, you can perform an online search for the doctor’s name with the terms malpractice, malpractice suit, or malpractice claim.
Note that it’s common for physicians to face malpractice suits. But depending on the frequency and nature of the claims, they can also be a major red flag. Choose wisely.
Surgical Complication Rate
To check whether a doctor is board-certified, use Certification Matters. While many excellent doctors are not board-certified, this credential can add some extra assurance.
#4: Schedule an Appointment, Then Do This…
So you think you’ve found the perfect transgender doctor near you who understands trans and other LGBTQ+ needs and experiences?
Not so fast. You should definitely schedule an appointment, but don’t become too attached before you visit in-person.
It’s best to think of the first appointment as an interview process. While the main purpose of the visit may be an annual checkup or preventive care, you can also learn a lot about the physician and how they run their practice.
You can bring a list of questions to aid you in your decision. Here’s a partial list you can use, but be sure to think through your own concerns and needs too:
- How did you first become interested in providing care to trans/LGBTQ+ patients?
- Do you have any continuing education or other special training in this area?
- How many years have you been focusing on this population?
- Are you familiar with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care?
- What steps have you taken in your practice to address the unique challenges these patients often face?
- Do you engage in other activities outside your work to support the rights, health, and wellbeing of transgender people or other LGBTQ+ individuals?
Most importantly, trust your gut. No matter how many accreditations or accolades a physician has, and no matter how they look on paper, your intuition is still your best friend.
Even if a doctor provides all the right answers, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good fit for you as an individual. If you aren’t feeling enthusiastic, or if you got a hostile feeling from the staff, you can continue your search for a transgender doctor near you.
#5: Know When to See a Specialist
Even the best doctor can’t do it all. Although finding a competent primary care physician is a good first step, it’s also an excellent idea to extend your search for specialists ahead of time.
Because you won’t be seeing specialists as often, it’s a good idea to expand your search radius. If you aren’t finding specialists who understand transgender issues in your area, try looking in the closest city.
Here are some specialties that you may want to consider:
- Endocrinologists with training in trans issues
- Gynecologists or urologists who work with trans people
- Assisted reproduction specialists
- Top or chest surgeons
- Bottom or genital surgeons
- Vocal specialists
- Hair specialists
- Counselors or therapists
If you have already found a great primary care physician who’s sensitive to transgender needs, you can also ask them for specialist referrals.
The Takeaway: Finding a Trans-Friendly Doctor is Difficult, But Worth It
Finding competent and affordable care is a challenge for many people, regardless of their identity or orientation. Being LGBTQ+ can make it even harder.
According to a 2017 peer-reviewed paper, “there are numerous barriers to health care for transgender individuals with the largest barrier reported by transgender individuals being the paucity of knowledgeable providers.”
Other barriers the authors identified included lack of insurance coverage, unfriendly office environments, and stigma for patients and providers.
However, finding inclusive care is worth it. If you’re feeling alone, you can use online and community resources to connect with allies and up your odds of finding a transgender doctor near you.
If you’re in the Medford area, Jill Henry, PA-C is a Complete Care provider with a master of health science degree who graduated from the Duke University Medical School Physician Assistant program. She works with LGBTQ+ and trans people to assist them in achieving physical and mental health, and favors natural approaches whenever possible.