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Research Letter
Health Care Policy and Law
May 2017

Military Family Physicians' Readiness for Treating Patients With Gender Dysphoria

Author Affiliations
  • 1Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), Bethesda, Maryland
  • 2Fort Belvoir Community Hospital (FBCH), Fort Belvoir, Virginia
JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(5):727-729. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.0136

In June 2016, the Pentagon lifted the ban on transgender personnel serving openly in the US military. As a result of the historic policy change, many military health care beneficiaries will likely seek services for gender dysphoria (GD). Transgender individuals are overrepresented by 2:1 in the military vs in the general population, and it is estimated that nearly 13 000 transgender individuals currently serve in the US military, 200 of whom will seek GD-related treatment each year.1 Approximately 1700 uniformed staff and resident family physicians serve in the US Army, Navy, and Air Force on active duty status. Given that family medicine physicians are responsible for the primary care of most of the active duty force and their family members seen in military treatment facilities (based on TRICARE Prime enrollment data), they will have an important role in treating service members and other beneficiaries with GD. The Department of Defense has stipulated that proficiency in transgender-related issues must be attained by June, 2017; however, the extent to which military clinicians currently feel competent caring for patients with GD is unknown. Most civilian practitioners receive no formal training on transgender-related services,2,3 and patients with GD cite fear of stigma and clinicians’ lack of cultural competence and sensitivity as barriers to care.4,5 Thus, the current study assessed military physicians’ readiness to treat patients with GD.