Wednesday, September 28, 2011

7th Edition of WPATH Standards Of Care Released

The WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) biennial conference started on September 24 and is running through the 28th in the ATL.   The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association was also having their conference in Atlanta from September 21-25. 

Since the Southern Comfort Conference, the world's largest trans conference was winding down to its conclusion as the WPATH event was cranking up at the Emory Conference Center, a launch event for the unveiling of the new 7th edition of the WPATH Standards of care was organized along with a town hall at SCC's hotel.

Dr. Walter Bockting, the outgoing president of WPATH said in an interview about the new SOC, "Some of the changes we've made really incorporate the latest science," Bockting said. "Research in this area is really increasing so it is still a growing area but there has been a boom in research publications. Our standards of care are more evidence based."

The Standards of Care were first published by WPATH in 1979 and were revised in 1980, 1981, 1990, 1998 and 2001.

In addition to making it clear that reparative therapy was unethical, here are the other highlights of the revised changes in the Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People.

• Psychotherapy is no longer a requirement to receive hormones and surgery, although it is suggested.

"It used to be a minimum amount of psychotherapy was needed. An assessment is still required but that can be done by the prescribing hormone provider," Bockting explained.

• A number of community health centers in the U.S. have developed protocols for providing hormone therapy based an approach known as the Informed Consent Model. These protocols are consistent with version 7 revisions of WPATH's standards of care.

"The SOC are flexible clinical guidelines; they allow for tailoring of interventions to the needs of the individual receiving services and for tailoring of protocols to the approach and setting in which these services are provided," Coleman explained to the GA Voice's Dyana Bagby..

"Access is more open and acknowledges transgender care is being provided in community health centers. This certainly makes it easier to access hormones," Bockting added.

• There are now different standards for surgery, as well. For example, a transgender man who wants a hysterectomy no longer has to live one year as a male in order to receive the surgery. Likewise, a transgender woman who wants her testicles removed does not have to live one year as a female.

For people who want genital reconstructive surgery, however, the standards of care recommend living a year in the role of the gender they are transitioning.

• Another major change, Bockting explained, is that the standards "allow for a broader spectrum of identities – they are no longer so binary."

The changes are indeed great news for the trans community and takes us another huge step closer toward depathologizing medical care for gender issues.

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