American Medical Association Adopts Transgender Policies

'Broadening how gender identity is defined within medicine'

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June 14, 2017

The country's largest organization of doctors is adopting a series of transgender policies, with the goal of expanding how "gender identity is defined within medicine."

The American Medical Association, a professional organization of over 200,000 doctors, is holding its annual meeting this week at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.

The House of Delegates, which sets policy for the association, announced changes dealing with transgender issues on Monday, including a policy stating that gender is "incompletely understood."

"Acknowledging that individuals' gender and sexual identities do not always fit neatly into binary paradigms, delegates to the 2017 AMA Annual Meeting in Chicago took several actions that support broadening how gender identity is defined within medicine and how transgender patients are treated by society," the association said.

The group said the new policies are focused on transgender individuals and the "many others who do not identify with one particular gender."

One new policy directs the AMA to "inform and educate the medical community and the public on the medical spectrum of gender identity."

"The authors of the adopted resolution wrote that gender is 'incompletely understood as a binary selection' because gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and genotypic and phenotypic sex are not always aligned," the group said.

The new policies also oppose restricting transgender individuals from accessing public facilities in line with their gender identity, and a new "gender-neutral" category for patients.

The group said they are concerned about the reproductive health of transmen—biological women who now identify as men.

"In another action, delegates called upon the AMA to work with the Food and Drug Administration to establish a gender-neutral patient categorization in risk evaluation and mitigation strategies (REMS)," the group said. "The idea is to take the focus away from gender identity and place it on reproductive potential. That is because there are patients who identify as male who may be taking medication that puts them at risk for damage to their biologically female reproductive systems."

Resolution 013 was necessary because currently with only male and female categories some transgender individuals are prohibited from registering with the FDA programs, promoting a culture of insensitivity, an official with the AMA said.

The AMA has 36 distinct policies on LGBTQ issues, according to Resolution 003, which states gender is "incompletely understood." The resolution instructs the AMA to work with other medical organizations to educate the medical community about gender identity because it can be a "complex interplay of gene expressions and biologic development."

The annual meeting included several transgender-focused panels, including a one-hour session entitled, "The Gender Revolution: Caring for the Transgender Patient."

Another session discussed "Health equity and the intersectionality of LGBTQ and minority health," hosted by the group's "Advisory Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Issues."

Hospitals around the world have also changed policies because of transgender issues. For instance, the National Health Service in the United Kingdom is now instructing doctors to stop calling pregnant women "expectant mothers," because the term is not "inclusive" to transmen.

The association saw a drop in membership after the group endorsed Obamacare in 2010. The organization also adopted new policies this week that promotes health care to refugees and immigrants to the United States.