We Can Improve Treatment and Care in Transgender Persons

Posted on 21.02.2024

Today, transgender and non-binary persons receive increased awareness in society and media. Milo Kinnock, son of former Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt, and US swimmer Lia Thomas, who rose to global prominence by becoming the first transgender athlete to win a The National Collegiate Athletic Association title, are but two examples.

In Denmark, broad access to seeking treatment in transgender persons was enabled nine years ago.

We have interviewed MD Dorte Glintborg from the Department of Endocrinology at Odense University Hospital (OUH) about the current state of treatment in transgender persons. Dorte Glintborg is also organiser of our upcoming DDEA event 9 – 10 April: Sex Steroids – Improving Treatment after Doping and in Transgender Persons.  Join our meeting to engage in enlightening discussions and invaluable insights into improving treatment strategies in the two distinct realms.

Steep Increase in Referrals for Treatment in Transgender Persons

In 2015, the Danish Health Authority issued a new guideline for healthcare professionals on the assessment and treatment of transgender individuals. The new guideline provided broader access to seeking treatment. This was done to enable congruence between people’s experienced gender identity and their biological sex assigned based on their external genitalia upon birth.

Since 2015, there has been a continuous increase in referrals to centres of gender identity for counseling, assessment, and treatment. Today, we see that far more individuals receive gender affirming hormone therapy and gender affirming surgeries than we did nine years ago, says Dorte Glintborg.

Newer studies indicate that among 0.5 – 2 % of the Danish population experience gender incongruence in some form. However, it is not all who seek or need treatment. In 2022, around 1,000 adults were referred to one of the three centres of gender identity in Denmark (sundhed.dk).

To put the number into perspective, type 1 diabetes has a prevalence of 0.5 %, says Dorte Glintborg.

Information on Transgender Health Care is Not Yet Widely Available

Yet, information on transgender health care is not yet widely available in traditional medical textbooks or in continuing education for doctors.

Health care professionals are requesting more knowledge in the area, says Dorte Glintborg.

When transgender persons are not cared for properly, the risk of a low quality of life is high, and the suicide rate is up to 10 times higher than in the general population.

We can optimise treatment and care even more in this group of people. This is why a clinical symposium like ours is so important, says Dorte Glintborg.

A New Research Area: Long-Term Physiological Effects Unknown

At the same time, there are concerns about the long-term physiological effects of sex hormones on health such as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease

With the expansion of the use of hormone therapy, there is an increasing need to understand the positive and negative consequences of sex steroids in transgender persons. Hormone therapy is considered a lifelong treatment, and the research area is still so new that the effects over a span of decades are not yet fully understood, says Dorte Glintborg.

The Danish research team has conducted register studies with an average follow-up period of five years. The longest period of follow-up data is 20 years, conducted in the Amsterdam study cohort. Therefore, there are still limited data on older transgender individuals.

Fact box

DDEA Event: Sex Steroids – Improving Treatment after Doping and in Transgender Persons

The DDEA event Sex Steroids – Improving Treatment after Doping and in Transgender Persons will take place 9 – 10 April in Odense, Denmark. The registration deadline is 3 March. We offer 1 night free accommodation.

Organisers

  • Caroline Michaela Kistorp, Professor, Rigshospitalet (DK)
  • Dorte Glintborg, Associate Professor, Odense University Hospital (DK)
  • Ebbe Eldrup, Clinical Associate Professor, Herlev & Gentofte Hospital (DK)
  • Jan Frystyk, Professor, Odense University Hospital (DK)
Copyright © 2023 Danish Diabetes and Endocrine Academy. All Rights Reserved • Privacy Policy