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What Is Gender-Affirming Care?

When someone’s gender identity conflicts with the sex assigned at birth, it can sometimes be difficult to find supportive health care that will support their transitional journey. Gender-affirming care is healthcare that involves various social, psychological, behavioral and medical interventions or adjustments to help support transgender and gender non-conforming individuals to better align various aspects of their lives to their gender identity. These interventions or affirmations may include counseling, medication, or surgery in some cases.

Gender-affirming care can be essential for the emotional and physical well-being of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. With quality gender-affirming healthcare, transgender people can live happier and healthier lives.

How to find gender-affirming healthcare

When seeking gender-affirming healthcare, it’s important to know what to look for. This way you can advocate for yourself and find the best treatment provider for you or a loved one who needs gender-affirming healthcare. Let’s go over some of the things to keep in mind when choosing a gender-affirming healthcare provider:

Look for informed-consent clinics

When seeking gender-affirming care, you want to find a healthcare provider who is going to consider your unique needs and work with you to provide the best care possible. An informed-consent clinic can be a very understanding and friendly environment when you begin researching gender-affirming care.


The main factor that sets informed-consent clinics apart is the lower barrier to care. Informed-consent clinics forgo the model where individuals must be diagnosed with gender dysphoria before receiving care or hormone therapy. These clinics are focused on providing compassionate, affirmative care to their patients. Importantly, they also respect the autonomy of their patients and their ability to decide on care for themselves.

Informed-consent clinics will discuss the risks, benefits and potential outcomes of treatments such as hormone replacement therapy and gender-confirmation surgery. The goal is to find the best path to help the individual better align with their gender identity. These also typically offer mental health counseling and other common gender-affirming care services. By combining evidence-based treatment without the need for a gender dysphoria diagnosis, informed-consent clinics can help individuals feel more comfortable and supported in their transitioning journey.

See an online trans-friendly provider

Many people are unaware that you can seek gender-affirming care online. This can be a convenient and comfortable way to receive care, as there’s no need to leave home or go through the hassle of finding an in-person clinic near you. As long as an online provider services your state, you can receive all the services of gender-affirming care through telehealth.

A remote experience from the comfort of your home guarantees that you’re in a safe, supportive environment where you already feel comfortable. Clinics like Circle Medical will take the time and effort to understand your goals and expectations, create a unique care plan for you and guide you through hormone therapy.

Key Terms

If you’re just learning about gender-affirming care for yourself or a loved one, it can be helpful to know some key terms that are used for trans and gender non-conforming individuals. Of course, your healthcare provider can always help you with any terms you may not be familiar with, but it’s still good to be knowledgeable so you know how to advocate for yourself and talk about your care. With that in mind, here are some key terms to know:

Sex assigned at birth

Sex assigned at birth, or biological sex, is a designation that is assigned to someone based on their physical anatomy. Sex assigned at birth will look at your reproductive organs and chromosomes and is typically given soon after a baby is born.

It’s important to note that someone’s sex assigned at birth is not necessarily an accurate representation of someone’s gender identity. When you are assigned a sex at birth, the designations typically fall into two categories – AFAB and AMAB. Let’s define those next.

AFAB

AFAB stands for ‘assigned female at birth.’ This designation is typically based on physical characteristics, hormones and chromosomes. However, an AFAB individual can identify as female, male, non-binary, gender-fluid or any other gender identity.

AMAB

AMAB stands for ‘assigned male at birth.’ This designation is typically based on physical characteristics, hormones and chromosomes. However, an AMAB individual can identify as female, male, non-binary, gender-fluid or any other gender identity.

Gender identity

Gender identity is a term that refers to an individual’s innate sense of their gender. A person’s gender identity can match the sex assigned to them at birth, or it may be different from the sex assigned at birth.

Someone’s gender identity can be expressed in various ways, including clothing, hairstyle, social interactions, behavior, voice, speech, physical characteristics and more.

Cisgender

Cisgender individuals are those whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. Cisgender individuals typically identify as female or male.

Transgender

Transgender is a term for individuals whose gender identity does not match the sex assigned to them at birth. Transgender people typically identify as male, female, non-binary or gender-fluid.

Two broad categories of transgender identity include trans masc and trans femme. Let’s define those next.

Trans Masc

Trans masc is an identity used to describe individuals who were assigned female at birth but who identify with masculine traits. Trans-masc individuals sometimes use pronouns such as he/him/his or they/them/theirs.

Trans Femme

Trans femme is an identity used to describe individuals who were assigned male at birth but who identify with feminine traits. Trans femme individuals sometimes use pronouns such as she/her/hers or they/them/theirs.

Gender dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is a term that refers to a sense of unease or feelings of conflict people may experience between their gender identity and the sex assigned to them at birth. Gender dysphoria can often lead to health concerns such as stress, anxiety and depression.

It’s important to note that having gender dysphoria is not the same as being transgender, but it can be a symptom that transgender individuals experience when they don’t feel like they can properly express their true gender identity.

Gender dysphoria isn’t always the same experience for everyone. Some people may have more mild feelings of discomfort while others may have intense feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety.

The common symptoms of gender dysphoria include an intense feeling of being uncomfortable in your body, being uncomfortable with your physical appearance, feelings of isolation and feeling like your body or outward social expression doesn’t match your gender identity.

Those with gender dysphoria can receive treatment and therapy from gender-affirming care professionals. Through support and affirmation, these individuals can go on to lead happier, more comfortable lives.

Gender euphoria

On the opposite end of the spectrum from gender dysphoria is the term gender euphoria. Gender euphoria is a term that describes the contentment and joy someone feels when their gender expression matches their gender identity.

Gender euphoria comes from embracing your gender identity and feeling affirmed by your gender expression. There are various paths for trans and gender non-conforming individuals to reach gender euphoria. Some individuals may be able to reach it through their own experiences while others may need gender-affirming care to reach a state of gender euphoria.

Pronouns

Pronouns are the words we use to refer to people when we don’t use their names. Most people are familiar with gender binary pronouns such as he/him/his and she/her/hers, but the language has evolved to include more gender-neutral pronouns such as they/their/them, ze/zir/zirs, ze/hir/hirs and more. People are typically happy to let someone know what their preferred pronouns are, so it’s important to respect their chosen pronouns.

Tips to advocate for your medical needs as an LGBTQIA+ person

Although progress has been made, it can still be stressful and intimidating for LGBTQIA+ individuals to navigate the modern healthcare system. If you need some help advocating for yourself, keep some of these tips in mind:

  • Know your Rights - Unfortunately, not all states have progressive healthcare rights or resources for LGBTQIA+ individuals. Make sure you familiarize yourself with your state’s laws and advocate for yourself if you feel discriminated against when seeking care.
  • Ask Questions - If you’re feeling uncomfortable or unsure about your care, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure to advocate for yourself by always understanding your recommended care and why it’s being recommended.
  • Talk to the Right Providers - Check with your provider to see if they’re familiar with gender-affirming care. If not, you may want to seek care elsewhere. Otherwise, you may be educating your provider more than they’re educating you.
  • Bring a Friend or Family Member - If you know any friends or family members with experience in gender-affirming care, and you’re comfortable with them, it may help to bring them along. They can take notes, provide emotional support and even ask questions on your behalf.
  • Don’t be Afraid to Change Providers - If you feel like your needs aren’t being met with your current provider, never hesitate to switch providers. You deserve quality, gender-affirming care.

Advocating for yourself in a healthcare environment isn’t always easy, but just remember you have the right to quality healthcare regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity.

Circle Medical is a safe place for everyone

If you’re looking for safe, supportive and convenient gender-affirming care, choose Circle Medical. Circle Medical provides online gender-affirming care. Our providers can provide comprehensive gender-affirming care & hormone therapy (masculinizing & feminizing) over video, prescribe medication if clinically appropriate and much more. Ready to get started?

Book an Online Appointment Today!

Book your online appointment with Circle Medical today! We offer same-day and next-day appointments so you can begin your gender-affirming care as soon as possible. Book your appointment to get started.

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