UK: The dangers of trans broken arm syndrome

Accessing healthcare is another item on the long list of things that are harder when you’re trans. Transition-related healthcare is notorious for long-waiting lists, unnecessarily strict requirements and a lack of local services. But general healthcare is fraught with difficulties too. Trans people are frequently subject to poor standards of care due to prejudice or plain ignorance. Then there’s the phenomenon known as Trans Broken Arm Syndrome. It’s when healthcare providers assume that all medical issues are a result of a person being trans. Everything – from mental health problems to, yes, broken arms.

The  more a person’s trans status is blamed for a person’s unrelated health problems, the less likely they are to bring it up – even when it is relevant. J summed it up, saying: “It’s a calculated risk on our part: The 1% chance that it is relevant and you make it worse by hiding, versus the 99% chance that it’ll be used to push you out of the clinic with no diagnosis, and ending up made worse by that. I take that 1% risk every time, it’s safer. But if I didn’t have to take that risk then I wouldn’t.” 

While it’s always important to be honest with healthcare providers, with attitudes as they are it is understandable than many trans people find it hard to trust staff. That will only change when workers are fully informed on trans issues.  Read More