Bioethics Blogs

Wait lists: Barriers to Trans Healthcare

Zack Marshall calls for comprehensive strategies to address long wait lists and other barriers to the provision and use of trans healthcare services.


Over the past few years, trans people have become increasingly visible in mainstream media. Most recently, we have heard about the controversy surrounding trans people’s abilities to safely access public bathrooms. In film, we saw Eddie Redmayne nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Lili Elbe, a trans woman who received gender affirmation surgery in the 1930’s. We have Sophia in Orange Is the New Black and Nomi in Sense8, both of whom are trans women acting on television. Benjamin Melzer recently became the first trans cover model for Men’s Health. This increased visibility of trans people in mainstream culture likely coincides with increasing numbers of trans people attempting to access healthcare services.

The term trans or trans* is an umbrella term used to refer to people who do not identify with the gender they were labelled at birth. This umbrella term includes identities such as transgender, genderqueer, or gender non-binary, as well as terms that may be associated with more medicalized histories such as transsexual or people diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

Despite increased visibility in the media, trans people continue to face multiple barriers to accessing health services. There are many reasons trans people may need to interact with health care systems. Trans people, like any others, need to see physicians or specialists in relation to health promotion. Trans people may also need to access specific services related to gender affirmation such as hormone therapy or surgeries.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.