MedStar Researcher Evaluates Interaction on Genderism and Transphobia in Graduate Medical Education

Recent collaborative research sought to assess the effect of interpersonal interaction on genderism and transphobia in graduate medical education. Leon L. Lai, MD from MedStar Washington Hospital Center and Director of Ryan White HIV Services Parts C and D at MedStar Health Research Institute conducted “Effect of a Transgender Speaker Panel on Genderism and Transphobia in Graduate Medical Education”, to examine the effects of education on transgender medical care to decrease physician bias and improve healthcare for transgender patients.

In general, the medical community has failed to provide competent care to gender minorities (transgender and gender nonbinary individuals), due to lack of medical education. This study sought to address the gap between physician genderism and transphobia associated with education in the care of gender minorities.

The goal of the research was to identify the effect of a standard lecture vs. standard lecture plus patient panel on genderism and transphobia on medical residents. An anonymous paired pre- and post-intervention survey was administered to MedStar Washington Hospital Center internal medicine residents. Attitudes towards transgender individuals were assessed using the Genderism and Transphobia Scale (GTS) before and after the intervention. The intervention was a standard hour-long Grand Rounds lecture on primary care of the transgender patient followed by a representative transgender speaker panel composed of a transgender female lawyer, a transmasculine activist, and the parent of a transgender child.

Analysis from 45 available respondents concluded that there is indeed a lack of medical school education on transgender health. 87% of primarily international medical graduates reported a median of 2 hours spent on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) issues in medical schools while 50% reported only 1 hour or less and 80% stated the quality of this education as poor or very poor. Of the 27 respondents that completed both surveys, there was a significant difference in the change of those attending the lecture and panel compared to the lecture alone. The combination of lecture and panel significantly decreased genderism and transphobia compared to the lecture alone.

The study concluded that medical schools need to improve their education on transgender health in order to close the gap in the care of gender minorities. As a result, graduate medical education should increase the amount of time spent and the quality of education in an attempt to decrease genderism and transphobia among physicians. For next steps, Dr. Lai would like to consider a cross-over study design and obtain a larger sample to better measure sustaining attitude changes.

This research was presented as part of the MedStar Health Teaching and Research Scholars Capstone event, which culminates both the two-year programs.