Trans Men’s Access to Knowledgeable Providers and Their Experiences in Health Care Settings

Apr 28, 2021

handsw cover croppedTransgender adults face a health care system rife with stigma, including a lack of culturally responsive providers and high likelihood of discrimination and mistreatment. However, there is a gap in knowledge about trans men—those assigned a female sex at birth who identify as men or as transmasculine—including subgroups, such as trans men of color.

An article in a recent issue of the journal Health & Social Work, co-published by NASW and Oxford University Press addresses this knowledge gap. Using data from the U.S. Transgender Survey, the largest transgender survey conducted in the United States, this study analyzed whether trans men’s access to knowledgeable providers and their experiences of mistreatment in health care were related to demographic and mental health characteristics and degree of being “out” to providers. Among 7,950 trans men, respondent race and ethnicity, education level, disability status, psychological distress, suicidality, and being less “out” were associated with assessing one’s health care provider as not knowledgeable about trans-related care.

Researchers found that mistreatment in health care was more common among:

  • Alaska Native/American Indian trans men;
  • those who lived in or near poverty;
  • those who were queer, pansexual, bisexual, or an orientation not listed;
  • those with a disability;
  • those experiencing distress or suicidality; and
  • those who were more “out.”

Finally, the article discusses how findings can inform culturally responsive health care interventions with trans men.

The article was written by:

  • Kristie L. Seelman, PhD, associate professor, School of Social Work, Georgia State University
  • Shanna K. Kattari, PhD, MEd, assistant professor, School of Social Work and Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Penny Harvey, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Human Sexuality Studies, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco
  • Matthew Bakko, MSW, MA, doctoral student, School of Social Work and Department of Sociology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor



The journal Social Work is a benefit of NASW membership. It is available online or, at a member’s request, in print. Children & Schools, Health & Social Work and Social Work Research are available by subscription at a discounted rate for NASW members, either online or in print. You can find out more about the journals and subscriptions at this link.