While the concept of gender-affirming care isn't new, the word has been gaining popularity over the last decade with the increase of rights and tolerance for the transgender community. It’s important to keep yourself educated on terms and needs of the LGBTQ+ community. This guide offers an explanation of what gender affirming care is, what types of gender affirming care there are, and how to access it safely.
What is gender-affirming care?
The World Health Organization defines gender-affirming care as “ a range of social, psychological, behavioral, and medical interventions designed to support and affirm an individual's gender identity.” The primary goal of gender-affirming care is to help support the individual better identify with their gender and address difficulties that may arise regarding their gender identity.
Gender-affirming care can come in many different forms, both medical and non-medical. Some of the most common forms of gender-affirming care are:
- Sexual reassignment surgery
- Plastic surgery
- Hormone therapy
- Hair removal through laser treatment or waxing
- Hair cuts or extensions
- Speech therapy
These services and procedures are meant to help individuals more closely align with their gender. By undergoing these procedures or services, the individual will likely feel more comfortable and affirmed in their gender.
Who needs gender-affirming care?
While gender-affirming care is primarily utilized by transgender, gender-fluid, and non-binary individuals. Gender-affirming care is available to everyone! Both transgender and cisgender individuals can experience issues with gender expression throughout their lifetime and can seek gender-affirming care.
Where can I get gender-affirming care?
It’s important to know where to access gender-affirming care in your area. Proper research is essential to ensure safety, especially in states where gender-affirming care is illegal. Some states have limited it to specific age groups. Check out this resource to see what laws are in your state.
Medical Gender-Affirming Care
Once you determine the legality of gender-affirming care in your state, you’ll need to decide what type of care you are looking for. If it is a medical procedure and you have insurance, check with them first to see what kind of services are offered under your health care plan. If the procedure you need is provided under your insurance or you are willing to pay for the procedure out of pocket, you’ll need to find a provider.
Behavioral and Psychological Gender-Affirming Care
If you are looking for behavioral or psychological gender-affirming care, there are many resources to find this type of care. If you have insurance, reach out to your insurance provider to see if they have a list or resource of where to find behavioral or psychological health care that is within the network. If they don't have a particular resource or you don't have insurance, you can utilize Psychology Today or Better Help to find a therapist that is right for you. These resources have filters to look for therapists who offer gender-affirming care.
Social Gender-Affirming Care
If you are looking for housing, access to benefits, or community building and activities, it's essential to know your rights as a transgender, nonbinary, or non-cisgender individual. Under the Fair Housing Act Protections, Sexual Orientation and gender identity are protected classes, meaning it is illegal to for landlords or housing officials to discriminate against trans individuals. Knowing your rights, like your fair housing rights, will allow you to seek assistance anywhere. If you feel discriminated against, you’ll know exactly what you are entitled to. Remember, though, your safety should be your top priority. If a situation escalates, it’s likely best to leave, report the concern, and seek assistance elsewhere.
Cosmetic Gender-Affirming Care
Lastly, if you want non-surgical cosmetic affirming care, start by deciding what service you want. This could be a set of fresh nails, a haircut, and color, getting extensions, hair removal, or even helping to assemble a new wardrobe once you decide which service or services you can start looking for and where to receive it.
Regarding non-surgical cosmetic services, word of mouth is a great place to start. Ask trusted friends, co-workers, family, or members of their community where they like to get certain services done. Ideally, they will know if the business does gender-affirming services or at least have an opinion on whether or not they would. Suppose they do know the answer; great! You know, a safe place to get a service done. If they don’t, you can contact the business and ask.
If you feel safe to call or message the business, you can contact them directly and ask what type of services they provide and who they provide them to. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, you can call from a blocked number, ask a friend or family member to call, or do some more research on the business, owner, and employees.
If you get a bad response from the business, end the conversation and move on. Gender-affirming care is essential but not worth risking your safety. Move on and continue researching other options.
Other Resources for gender-affirming care
No matter what type of gender-affirming care you seek, be sure to research a specific place, provider, and service itself. Doing so will increase your safety and the likelihood of a pleasant experience. If your area has a queer/ transgender community center, this is a great resource to use to find people who have had similar services/procedures done. If you don't have access to a queer/transgender community center, utilize online forums like Reddit to join virtual communities.