Bridging the Gap: Developing Better Health Communication Between Providers, People in Transgender Community


A new virtual program aims to train clinicians and other providers on terminology and how to engage patients in effective dialogue and counseling.

As the world evolves, providers might not be current on being trained on how to engage in dialogue or have health conversations around sexual health with people in the transgender community. In fact, typically health care providers receive less than 8 hours of training on sexual health topics overall throughout their entire time in medical school, which can create very real communication gaps and lead to a lack of optimized care for these patient groups.

“There are a few challenges that health care professionals have in discussing sexual health with transgender and gender diverse people that includes a lack of basic training for clinicians in foundational concepts to terminology, lack of understanding of stigma and how this is related to health inequities including in the sexual health realm, and how to engage in sensitive and effective communication,” Alex Keuroghlian, MD, MPH, director of Education and Training Programs, The Fenway Institute, explained.

Boston-based Fenway Health along with Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital are collaborating on a new educational conference aimed at this topic and will be hosting their inaugural 3-day training webinar, Advancing Excellence in Sexual and Gender Minority Health Education: A Train-the-Trainer Course for All Healthcare Professionals," which will be held on March 25-March 27. This conference is run by Fenway, and is an accredited course through Harvard Medical School.

The hope is that the program will act as a force multiplier to make provider training in the health care issues faced by sexual and gender minorities easier to find and take.

“We realized we needed to develop a conference or an intensive, immersive course to train a large number of health professionals from across the country to then go back to their home institutions, organizations, hospitals, and clinics to be leaders and champions for LGBTQIA+health and train their own colleagues in this way,” Keuroghlian said. Keuroghlian is the conference’s course director and an instructor for several of the classes.

Contagion spoke to Keuroghlian who offered some insights on the upcoming program including what to expect and the goals for it.

For those interested in learning more about the online event or attending it, people can go to the site here.

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