The National Center for Gender Spectrum Health is a new initiative of the Program in Human Sexuality (PHS). As part of the University of Minnesota Medical School, PHS is one of the nation’s most renowned academic health programs advancing sexual health through research, education, clinical service, and advocacy. Within this robust environment, the National Center for Gender Spectrum Health seeks to promote the well-being of all people across the gender spectrum (including those who are cisgender, transgender, and gender diverse).
Transgender and gender-nonconforming people have existed throughout history and across cultures, encountering varying degrees of resistance and acceptance. Since the 1970s in the U.S., advances have been made in transgender visibility, and with it attention is being paid to healthcare services, policy, research, and interest in the transgender experience. We’re all hearing more about it than ever: Celebrity figures in the news. Acclaimed television shows. Prominent articles in the media. But there’s still a long way to go. The conversation has been largely focused on medical interventions, with less attention to psycho-social needs, measures, and outcomes. With civil rights at the fore of our national discussions, people who identify as transgender continue to face stigma, discrimination, and lack of access to care—all of which contribute to health disparities and quality of life concerns. At the same time, clinics struggle to keep up with the demand for services because of lack of specialized training.
We believe that a profound paradigm shift is needed—one that acknowledges the integrity of a diverse range of gender identities for all people, and pushes the existing dialogue within transgender healthcare forward. This shift will lead to new levels of research-based outcomes that are trans-affirmative and developmentally appropriate across the lifespan, addressing the unique needs of children, adolescents, young adults, middle age, and older adults.