People Worthy of Respect: Healthcare Disparities in Trans Canadians


  • Karmen J McNamara Thompson Rivers University


transmen, transwomen, intersex, androgynous, genderqueer, gender liminal, transsexual, transitioned, two-spirit cisgender healthcare trans transgender sociology disparities mental physical illness disease health care non-binary gender sex


When people feel stigmatized, judged or bullied in a certain setting, it follows that they will avoid that setting as much as possible. Research shows this is exactly what is happening with trans people in Canada who require medical care. Despite being entitled to equal access to healthcare, trans Canadians frequently face stigma and discrimination which leads to unmet health needs. Consequently, they are less likely to seek care, even in the event of a medical emergency. This paper explores the reasons why trans Canadians are at greater risk for poor health, and examines possible solutions to this complex social problem. There are three distinct, but related, reasons why trans people face elevated risks. First, trans people suffer greater stigma and discrimination in their daily lives than does the general public; this places them at higher risk for mental illness, addictions, and high-risk behaviours. Secondly, the medical system and medical professionals have a history of discriminating against trans patients. Finally, as a result of stigma and discrimination, trans people are less likely to seek preventative care or care for non-life-threatening ailments than are members of the general public. These factors combine to create system of inequitable health care for trans Canadians. Solutions to these problems require that the healthcare system, and healthcare practitioners, first change the way that they view and treat trans patients: as people worthy of respect.