Mount Sinai, Visiting Nurse Service of New York Create Niche Program to Better Serve Transgender Population
// By Althea Fung //
Care of transgender patients is complex, cutting across multiple medical specialties and requiring an integrated, coordinated approach — including care at home. Mount Sinai’s Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery (CTMS) offers gender-affirming care to trans men and women.
Approximately 0.6 percent (about 1.4 million) of American adults identify as transgender, according to a report from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. Like all people, transgender individuals — people who have a gender identity or expression that differs from their assigned sex at birth — need access to health care. Many transgender people also want access to care to “transition” or medically affirm their gender identity.
“The ban by Medicare on coverage for trans-specific care was reversed [in 2014]. That allowed hospitals to really think about providing care through their usual channels,” says Joshua D. Safer, MD, FACP, an endocrinologist and the executive director of the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System.
In 1981, the US Department of Health and Human Services imposed a coverage ban because the agency deemed many of the procedures as experimental. With that reversal, transgender medical care, particularly gender-affirming surgeries, has increased. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported performing 155 percent more gender-affirming surgeries in 2017 than in 2016.
In 2016, the New York City-based health system opened the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery (CTMS) to offer gender-affirming care to trans men and women. It is one of only a few programs in the country offering medical, surgical, and behavioral health care in addition to providing support services.