Northwestern profs contribute new medical guidelines for LGBT, gender-nonconforming patients

Olivia Exstrum, Assistant Campus Editor

Two Northwestern Medicine professors were involved in writing the new Association of American Medical Colleges guidelines dealing with LGBT and gender-nonconforming patients, the University announced Tuesday.

Feinberg professors Alice Dreger and Scott Leibowitz worked on the guidelines, released Tuesday, which will update medical school curriculum to “improve care for patients who may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender nonconforming or intersex,” according to the release.

“Our group is concerned that many well-meaning physicians and medical students need more concrete help in caring for these populations,” Dreger, a co-editor of the guidelines and former chair of the Intersex Society of North America said in the release. “This document is aimed at bringing all American medical schools and practicing physicians up to speed on that.”

There have been no official guidelines for addressing the health of LGBT, gender-nonconforming and intersex individuals until now, according to release. The guidelines identify 30 areas of competency medical professionals should have.

Dreger said in the release these individuals are at an increased risk within the medical arena as well as in general. She said she wants physicians to not contribute to this risk and instead “lead in terms of cultural change for these populations.”

Leibowitz, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, said often when young patients are dealing with gender identity and sexuality issues, many physicians feel inadequately trained to help.

“Helping physicians understand how to care for all patients across the lifespan in terms of sex and gender development and sexuality is crucial in reducing some of the health risks that many youth currently face,” he said.

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