Discussing the key takeaways for clinicians when it comes to treating this patient population, the assistant professor of pediatrics and neurology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine emphasized the need to improve communication.
“I think the key takeaway for clinicians is that they should become knowledgeable about this stuff—and by ‘this stuff,’ I mean caring for the transgender population. One part of that would be to make a welcoming practice. For example, asking your patients what name you should use when speaking or communicating with them, and asking them, ‘Hey, what are your pronouns?’”
Creating a respectful and welcoming environment is vital for all patients in the clinical care setting, but for transgender and gender-diverse patients—a historically stigmatized population—feeling supported can help bridge gaps in care and improve patient-provider communication.
According to Jennifer Hranilovich, MD, assistant professor, pediatrics and neurology, Headache Program, University of Colorado School of Medicine/Children's Hospital Colorado, this can be accomplished by simply affirming patients’ gender identity, and directly asking patients for their preferred pronouns and name in conversation. Offices can also opt to use of electronic medical record systems that feature sexual and gender identity prominently, making it easier for clinicians and staff to interact with patients.
Discussing a recent narrative review conducted to investigate headache in transgender and gender-diverse patients, Hranilovich also commented on the importance of identifying drug-drug interactions in patients who may be receiving gender affirming hormone therapy (GAHT). Areas in need of further research include epidemiology of headache in this population, understanding the difference between people who do and do not receive GAHT, as well as the effects of pubertal suppression.