Is “Trans Broken Arm Syndrome” Actually A Real Thing?
“Trans broken arm syndrome” refers to a common experience among transgender people of medical professionals blaming medical problems on a person’s being trans (ie. “You have a broken arm? Hmmm… it’s probably because you’re trans. Are you on hormones replacement therapy?”).
Daily Dot writer Mary Emily O’Hara discussed the “syndrome” in a longer article about transgender health disparities. In it, she mentions the viral #TransHealthFail hashtag where trans people share horror stories about medical professionals misgendering, erasing and blaming them for their own maladies.
And it’s actually much worse than just a handful of ignorant health workers; trans people are fighting against a knowledge gap and exclusionary practices that run throughout the entire system, from insurance to med school research:
WPATH (The World Professional Association for Transgender Health) has long fought for insurance companies to stop discriminating against trans people. It’s not just about getting coverage for gender transition procedures and hormones. It’s also about being treated as a human being who gets sick or injured sometimes—not because you’re trans, but because you’re human.
Not a single medical school in the United States has a curriculum devoted to LGBT health issues, much less transgender health issues. Green said the only existing courses that do focus on LGBT health needs are electives taught by students, and it’s not exactly something the medical school leadership wants to change.
O’Hara adds that a lack of trans-related medical research has made even trans-friendly doctors largely unknowledgeable about the long-term effects of transitioning.
While WPATH and apps like My Trans Health are working hard to connect transgender patients with doctors skilled in trans treatment, trans people really need the medical community to step up and address its failings. A 2011 report on national LGBT medical disparities found that “almost 50 percent of transgender respondents have postponed medically necessary care for financial reasons or because they were afraid of encountering discrimination from providers.”
For trans people, improving transgender healthcare is literally a matter of life and death.
(featured photo composite via abbyladybug)