McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Breaking barriers when it comes to transgender care

Published: November 24, 2016


New curriculum to help break down barriers to transgender care has been created for post-secondary healthcare learners.

TransEd is the name of an online learning platform to provide post-secondary healthcare learners with tools to improve comfort and competence in providing care to transgender patients. The project is a collaborative effort between the Department of Family Medicine of McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy. 

The number one barrier to transgender care is lack of education, and currently most curriculums for health care professionals have minimal training on transgender care. 

"There are unique needs transgender people have that aren't taught well in our healthcare professional schools," said Michael Lee-Poy, project co-lead, physician, and associate clinical professor at McMaster University's Department of Family Medicine. "One size doesn't fit all for learning, but we try to use multiple teaching modalities. It's important for health care providers to be educated to minimize and not to be part of the barriers, and not be part of the stigma." 

TransEd is composed of eight sections that address diverse aspects of patient care such as assessment, psychosocial considerations, medications and surgery. The development of the module was funded by a grant from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and is available to any post-secondary healthcare education program in the province.

The online program combines written, video and interactive content and is modular in design to allow educators to select and use sections that are most beneficial for their programs. Online videos showcase transgender men and women talking about their experiences and interactions with the health care system.

"Our goal was to create a module that would give all health-care students a firm basis so that they would feel confident working with the transgender population," says Elaine Lillie, project co-lead and director of interprofessional education and curriculum development at the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy.

Experience based modules will create a larger scope of realistic examples allowing health care professionals to better understand the needs of transgender patients limiting the barriers they already face.

TransEd officially launched this week with the first class featuring guest speaker Dr. Carys Massarella, assistant clinical professor at McMaster University and transgender advocate providing transgender care.

"If we understand that we can treat transgender people as people, then we actually improve care and we actually make care better and we make it more enjoyable," Massarella said.

For more information about the module, please visit the TransEd website at

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