Sigma Research

Accessing and utilising gender-affirming healthcare in England and Wales: trans and non-binary people’s accounts of navigating gender identity clinics

BMC Health Services Research, 2021; 21:609 (doi: 10.1186/s12913-021-06661-4).

Authors: Talen Wright, Emily Jay Nicholls, Alison J Rodger, Fiona M Burns, Peter Weatherburn, Roger Pebody, Leanne McCabe, Aedan Wolton, Mitzy Gafos & T. Charles Witzel


Background: Transgender, or trans, people experience a number of barriers to accessing gender-affirming healthcare and have a range of barriers and facilitators to primary care and specialist services, commonly citing discrimination and cisgenderism playing a central role in shaping accessibility. The pathway through primary care to specialist services is a particularly precarious time for trans people, and misinformation and poorly applied protocols can have a detrimental impact on wellbeing.

Method: We recruited trans participants from an HIV Self-Testing Public Health Intervention (SELPHI) trial to interviews which explored contemporary gender-affirming service experiences, with an aim to examine the path from primary care services through to specialist gender services, in the UK.

Results: A narrative synthesis of vignettes and thematic analysis of in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with twenty trans individuals. We summarise positive and negative accounts of care under three broad categories: Experiences with primary care physicians, referrals to gender identity clinics (GICs), and experiences at GICs.

Conclusions: We discuss implications of this research in terms of how to improve best practice for trans people attempting to access gender-affirming healthcare in the UK. Here we highlight the importance of GP’s access to knowledge around pathways and protocols and clinical practice which treats trans patients holistically.

Keywords: Trans; healthcare experiences; Qualitative research; Mental health

Available FREE online

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