Building a Better Health Service


Supporting GPs to work with transgender people

An information booklet for General Practitioners (GPs) working with transgender people in the South East has been launched by the HSE.
The 12 page guide, produced by the HSE’s Primary Care and Social Inclusion team for the South East, includes suggestions for working with transgender patients, an outline of treatment options and transgender specific assessment and care, a summary of services for children and adolescents, adults and families and other resources. 
The publication – which was launched at an event in Kilkenny this afternoon – will issue to up to 300 GPs in counties Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford that are part of the General Medical Services (GMS) scheme, in addition to other doctors, medical health professionals and primary care teams.  
The prevalence of transgender people in Ireland is difficult to estimate as there is no official collection of this data. The HSE, however, points to two significant sources in this respect.
1.      The UK based Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) have estimated that 1% of individuals may experience some degree of gender variance or non-conformity and approximately 0.2% may undergo transition.
2.      In a recent study, researchers from the Department of Endocrinology in St. Columcille’s Hospital (SCH), Loughlinstown, Dublin reviewed the medical records of 218 patients and estimated prevalence of gender dysphoria at on in 10,154 male-to-female and one to 27,668 female-to-male individuals in the Irish population. These figures, however, only include individuals seeking medical services from that hospital and exclude those who are seeking treatment elsewhere or who do not medically transition.
Launching the publication of the booklets, Ms. Diane Nurse (National Social Inclusion Lead, HSE) told the audience at the event in the Boardroom of the HSE’s Admin offices at Lacken, Kilkenny:  
Transgender people are part of Irish society and it is essential that our services address their needs. To do this, the HSE is in the process of developing services and models of care which will involve building capacity at national and local levels. This will also require targeted investment. Delivering services to transgender people should be everyone's business. The HSE are currently developing a standardised model of care for transgender people, including children and adolescents, and we have been to the fore in progressing things here in the South East.”
Outlining the aim of the booklets, Ms. Angela Joy (Regional Senior Community Participation Coordinator, Social Inclusion, HSE South East Community Healthcare Organisation) said:
“In addition to our own specialists within HSE services in the South East, among those to have advised in the compilation of this booklet have been Dr. Aileen Murtagh (Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, St Patricks Mental Health Services Dublin), GPs Dr. Paschal O’ Dea in Co. Carlow and Dr. Molly Owens in South Tipperary and Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) – which is supported by the HSE and seeks to improve conditions and advance the rights and equality of trans people and their families.”
“Transgender people are individuals whose gender identity or gender expression is different from the sex assigned at birth. Gender identity is the internal sense of being male or female, neither or both. Transgender people have a variety of needs relating to their healthcare including access to mental health, medical transition and primary care services that are sensitive to their identities and experience. The booklet is intended to support GPs working with transgender people and their families to provide informed and sensitive care to their patients.”
Ms. Tara Hunt (HSE Primary Care Lead for Carlow/Kilkenny and South Tipperary) also advised as to how the team producing the booklet have actively engaged with the Irish College of General Practitioners St. Luke’s General Hospital Carlow/Kilkenny Liaison Committee and delivered presentations to GP Clinical Society meetings in the South East:
“All medical, nursing and mental health clinicians have warmly welcomed this information booklet. The HSE, in partnership with TENI, has delivered training to over 100 HSE clinicians across the South East and further specific training is planned for later this year.. As GPs are the first point of contact for the vast majority of the population, it is critical that these clinicians are equipped with the most up to date information pertaining to their patients’ needs.”  
The Launch was also attended by Chair Ms. Jeanne Hendrick (Regional Manager/Social Inclusion, HSE South East Community Healthcare Organisation) and other members of the HSE’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and/or Intersex (LGBTI) Health Steering Group and by Ms. Vanessa Lacey ( Health and Education Manager, TENI) – who, along with Kilkenny based GP Dr. Ronan Fawsitt, also addressed the Launch.