The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) released a newly-revised edition of the Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People (SOC), on September 25, 2011, at the WPATH conference in Atlanta. This is the seventh version of the SOC. The original SOC were published in 1979. Previous revisions occurred in 1980, 1981, 1990, 1998 and 2001.
The SOC is considered the standard document of reference on caring for the transsexual, transgender, and gender nonconforming population. The newly-revised SOC will help health professionals better understand how they can offer the most effective care to these individuals. The SOC focuses on primary care, gynecologic and urologic care, reproductive options, voice and communication therapy, mental health services and hormonal and surgical treatment.
"The latest 2011 revisions to the SOC realize that transgender, transsexual, and gender nonconforming people have unique health care needs to promote their overall health and well-being, and that those needs extend beyond hormonal treatment and surgical intervention," said SOC Committee Chair, Eli Coleman, PhD, Professor and Director at Program in Human Sexuality, University of Minnesota.
"The previous versions of the SOC were always perceived to be about the things that a trans person must do to satisfy clinicians, this version is much more clear about every aspect of what clinicians ought to do in order to properly serve their clients. That is a truly radical reversal . . . one that serves both parties very well," said Christine Burns, SOC International Advisory Committee Member.
More than any other version, 2011 revisions also recognize that gender nonconformity in and of itself is not a disorder and that many people live comfortable lives without having to seek therapy or medical interventions for gender confusion or unhappiness.
This version provides more detailed clinical guidelines to address the health care needs of children, adolescents, and adults with gender dysphoria who need assistance with psychological, hormonal, or surgical care.
In addition to clearly articulating the collaborative relationship needed between transsexual, transgender, and gender nonconforming individuals and health care providers, the new, 2011 revisions provide for new ways of thinking about cultural relativity and culture competence.
The document includes a call to advocacy for professionals to promote public policies and legal reforms that promote tolerance and equity for gender and sexual diversity. This document recognizes that well-being is not obtained through quality health care alone but a social climate that eliminates of prejudice, discrimination, and stigma and promotes a positive and tolerant society that embraces sexual and gender diversity.
WPATH, formerly known as the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA), is a professional organization devoted to the understanding and treatment of gender identity disorders. As an international multidisciplinary professional Association the mission of WPATH is to promote evidence based care, education, research, advocacy, public policy and respect in transgender health.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health. (2011). Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People, 7th Version. Retrieved from http://www.wpath.org/documents/Standards%20of%20Care%20V7%20-%202011%20WPATH.pdf