Barriers to Gender-Affirming Care for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Individuals

Jae A. Puckett*, Peter Cleary, Kinton Rossman, Brian Mustanski, Michael E. Newcomb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Gender-affirming care, including hormone therapy, “top” (e.g., chest reconstruction surgery) and “bottom” (e.g., vaginoplasty, phalloplasty, metoidioplasty, etc.) surgeries, and puberty blockers, is an efficacious treatment of gender dysphoria for transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) individuals. However, many TGNC people encounter significant barriers in accessing gender-affirming care, which we detail via results from on online study. Participants included 256 TGNC individuals (78.9% White, ages 16–73, Mage = 28.4). Among participants, 61.3% were receiving hormone therapy, 22.7% had undergone top surgery, and 5.5% had undergone bottom surgery. Open-ended responses (n = 201) were thematically analyzed and common barriers included finances and insurance issues, a lack of service availability, and fears or worries. Participants reported various systemic issues and incidents of bias within medical and mental health fields, as well as a lack of medical provider awareness and education. Other themes were interpersonal barriers (e.g., fears of rejection); age and need of parental consent for minors; other medical issues; and a lack of information about how to acquire care. These findings can be utilized to educate professionals in medical and mental health fields about barriers their TGNC patients may encounter in receiving affirming care and suggest a number of ways to improve access to these services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-59
Number of pages12
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Barriers to transition
  • Gender nonconforming
  • Gender-affirming care
  • Genderqueer
  • Healthcare stigma
  • Transgender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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