What is the state of trans-specific healthcare in Värmland?2023-11-10
Trans-specific healthcare coordinator is a function included in the healthcare services in Region Värmland. The purpose is to support transgender people and those close to them as they move through the healthcare chain. The function is perceived to provide good and important psychosocial support and many express a feeling of being seen and heard for the first time by the healthcare services. These are the findings of a research study in collaboration between Karlstad University and Umeå University, commissioned by Region Värmland.
If you are suffering because your gender identity does not correspond with your body, you can seek help from the trans-specific healthcare coordinator at the sexual health centre in Region Värmland. To receive gender-confirming care, you must first be referred for comprehensive gender dysphoria assessments, which are now a highly specialised form of care and not available in Värmland. The waiting time is long in Sweden and the assessment process is often long and complex. Many who seek help feel powerless and questioned, which can have a negative impact on their mental health. Trans-specific healthcare coordinator was introduced in 2020 as a pilot project by Region Värmland due to the increased risk of mental illness, and in 2023 the function was made permanent.
The research study explores transgender people’s experiences from the healthcare services in Värmland
The purpose of the research study has been to explore transgender people’s experiences from the healthcare services in Värmland with a particular focus on the trans-specific healthcare coordinator function. The study resulted in the report Vård för transpersoner i Värmland (Trans-specific healthcare in Värmland). The report sheds light on strengths and weaknesses as well as providing recommendations for future improvements.
– The study shows that the trans-specific healthcare coordinator is a valued and important healthcare function, says Wibke Straube, Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies at Karlstad University. Many feel that the trans-specific healthcare coordinator has provided them with psychosocial support and counseling and that their trust in the healthcare system has increased.
According to the researchers, the success factor behind the new function is that it is placed outside of psychiatric care and provides psychosocial support by professionals with trans-specific expertise.
– The fact that the staff has insight into the challenges that transgender people might face and the opportunities available to meet others with similar experiences is important in order to establish trust. A welcoming attitude, professional expertise and in-depth knowledge of the processes involved in gender affirming care and the healthcare chain in Sweden are other identified success factors. Our recommendation is that other regions should consider a similar care function, says Wibke Straube.
Trans-specific healthcare coordinators should offer support before, during and after gender dysphoria assessments, which is already in place but this support can be improved. Other suggestions for improvement include increased accessibility, more meetings and group discussions, greater trans-specific expertise among the region’s healthcare professionals and improved strategies to prevent suicide among transgender people.
The study was conducted on behalf of Region Värmland. The interdisciplinary research team consists of Wibke Straube, Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies, Karlstad University, Ida Linander, Docent in Public Health Science, Umeå University, och Andreas Henriksson, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Karlstad University. The research project and the report were financed by the regional network for suicide prevention in Värmland.