New Paper Supports Informed Consent Model of Transgender Medical Care

A newly published article, written by staff from Fenway Health’s Transgender Health Program, looks at the potential for creating more patient-centric and affirming transgender patient care practices through the informed consent model of medical care. Informed Consent in the Medical Care of Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Patients was published in the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics and co-authored by Timothy Cavanaugh, MD Medical Director for the Transgender Health Program; Ruben Hopwood, MDiv, PhD, Coordinator, Transgender Health Program; and Cei Lambert, MFA, Patient Advocate, Transgender Health Program.

The informed consent model of care has evolved as an alternative to the standard model of care in the field of medical care for transgender and gender non-conforming people. Cavanaugh, Hopwood, and Lambert explain the differences between these two care approaches and advocate for the informed consent approach, as it provides more patient-centered care and is more respectful of the patient’s sense of agency.

“This approach recognizes that patients are the ones who are best positioned, in the context of their lived experience, to assess and judge beneficence (i.e., the potential improvement in their welfare that might be achieved), and it also affords prescribing clinicians a better and fuller sense of how a particular patient balances principles of nonmaleficence and beneficence,” the article explains.

In other words, the informed consent model for gender-affirming treatment is positive because it not only acknowledges, but actively supports, the patient’s personal autonomy in choosing their care options, independent of external evaluations or behavioral therapy.

In this article, we advocated for the informed consent model of care, like that provided at Fenway Health, as a method of care that offers a more patient-centered approach with respect for patient autonomy and agency,” said Hopwood. “We believe that this model of care enhances collaboration between patient and provider and offers a means for deeper understanding of the experiences and needs of patients while empowering providers to provide better patient care overall.”

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