The need for transgender healthcare medical education in a developing country

Russell S. Martins, Raisa Saleh, Hasan Kamal, Mishal Gillani, Asma A.H. Merchant, Muhammad M. Munir, Hamza M. Iftikar, Zara Shah, Muhammad H.Z. Hussain, Mohammad K. Azhar, Fatima Qadri, Sarah Saleem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The single most significant barrier to healthcare for people who identify as transgender is poor access to healthcare providers trained in trans-health. Despite this, trans-health education is far from being a routine component of the undergraduate medical curriculum in developing countries like Pakistan. This study aimed to assess knowledge and attitudes regarding people who identify as transgender, as well as the perceived need for trans-health in the curriculum, amongst medical students in Pakistan. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study using a self-designed questionnaire was carried out amongst undergraduate medical students at the Aga Khan University. Stratified random sampling was used, whereby students were stratified based on their current year of medical education. Results: A total of 249 students were included in this survey. The majority (61%) had poor overall knowledge, with a significantly higher percentage of pre-clinical students (79.6%) having poor knowledge regarding differences in transgender health needs compared to clinical students (60.3%; p = 0.001). Most students acknowledged that individuals who identified as transgender faced a lack of access to healthcare (78.3%), were poorly integrated into society (92.0%) and were treated differently in a clinical setting (58.6%). Many students were unsure of how to address (49.8%) and clinically examine (38.2%) patients identifying as transgender. However, most students demonstrated good (49.4%) or fair (45.0%) attitudes towards individuals who identified as transgender, and the majority reported a high (54.6%) or moderate (42.2%) perceived need for the inclusion of trans-health in the medical curriculum. Conclusion: Despite deficiencies in trans-health education in the medical school curriculum, positive attitudes and a high perceived need among students lay the foundation for developing a medical curriculum that gives due priority to trans-health. In developing countries, this can help bridge disparities in healthcare provision to people who identify as transgender.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-413
Number of pages9
JournalAdvances in Medical Education and Practice
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Developing country
  • Medical curriculum
  • Medical education
  • Transgender


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