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Transgender healthcare: What to know before you hit the waiting room

Navigating the road to gender-affirming care can be rough, confusing and complicated to say the least. Many medical aids don’t cover the hormone replacement therapy and surgeries many transgender people need to feel like themselves — at least not without a fight, as we recently reported.

Finding a trans-friendly health practitioner can be a start and a challenge. We asked Ronald Addinall, University of Cape Town clinical social work lecturer, for tips on what to look out for when seeking medical attention. 

  1. Look for a healthcare provider who identifies as a trans-positive practitioner and has a known track record of experience in healthcare provision to transgender persons. 
  2. Join social media platforms where transgender people can ask for recommendations from the trans community.
  3. Contact existing transgender-focused organisations such as Gender DynamiX Triangle Project; Transgender Intersex AfricaSocial, Health and Empowerment Feminist Collective of Transgender Women of Africa; or the Trans Wellness Project. They may have a list of trans-positive providers.
  4. Reading guidelines can help you to navigate your gender-affirming journey such as those published by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health available for free at www.wpath.org
  5. Ask any healthcare providers you might see whether they are up to date with the latest transgender health guidelines and whether they have experience in treating the community.
  6. Belong to a private medical aid? Then make sure you read this article on what medical aids schemes do and don’t cover and your rights. 

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Nelisiwe Msomi
Nelisiwe Msomi

Nelisiwe Msomi is a Junior journalist at Bhekisisa. She holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Johannesburg. 

Previously, Msomi was a volunteer member of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation’s media team and started off her career as an intern at Bhekisisa.

She has an interest in how government policies affect the ordinary person walking on Johannesburg’s Nelson Mandela Bridge and hopes to one day find a solution to long 6 am clinic queues.

"I have always seen journalism as a means of making the world a better place. Being part of Bhekisisa allows me to do just that, especially through the practice of solution based journalism. I believe that the work we do as journalist paves the path for better service delivery in our continent," she says.

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