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Adapting health services to meet the needs of autistic people with gender dysphoria

This research aims to ensure autistic people with gender dysphoria get the right support and help NHS clinicians to better understand the needs of this group.

Budget

£310,682.00

Project status

In progress

Duration

1 Apr 2019 to 31 Mar 2022

This project aims to improve the support autistic people with gender dysphoria receive. We believe that increasing NHS clinicians’ understanding of this group will contribute to more effective support.

This research will explore the following questions:

  • What is it like for autistic young people and adults to experience gender dysphoria?
  • How do autistic people, family members, and NHS clinicians think about the intersection of autism and gender dysphoria?
  • What are the facilitators and barriers to autistic young people and adults receiving the right support for gender dysphoria?

The findings have contributed to the development of training materials for NHS clinicians. These will help them adapt to meet the needs of autistic people with gender dysphoria. Links to the training materials are available on this page.

Background

Transgender is a term used to describe people with gender identities that are different from their birth sex. Gender dysphoria describes some transgender people who experience distress in relation to a mismatch between their gender identity and sex assigned at birth.

The NHS provides Gender Identity Clinics, which offer treatment to this group. Between 5%-26% of people accessing gender clinics are autistic. Autism is a life-long developmental condition defined by differences in social communication and repetitive behaviours, interests or activities.

As the rate of autism in the general population is 1%, autistic people are significantly over-represented in gender clinics. However, there is little research about what it is like to be autistic and experience gender dysphoria.

There is evidence that the NHS is letting down autistic people and transgender people. Furthermore, autistic people have more complex health needs than non-autistic people. However, autistic people often fall between the gaps of services and do not get the support they need.

Therefore, this project aims to:

  • understand the lived experience of being autistic and having gender dysphoria
  • find out how healthcare services could better support this patient group

Team members

Research outputs

Healthcare clinician training videos

We've created two training videos to help healthcare clinicians provide more effective care for autistic people with gender dysphoria:

  • Adapting healthcare settings for autistic people with gender dysphoria. Covering appointment set-up, clinic environment and communication.
  • Clinical approaches to exploring the experiences of autistic people with gender dysphoria. Covering common ways that autism and gender dysphoria intersect, and how to explore these experiences.

Watch these videos.

Videos require a password. This is available to healthcare clinicians supporting autistic people experiencing gender dysphoria. Contact Dr Kate Cooper for access.

Once you've viewed these videos, please complete the training material and provide feedback here.

Pre-clinic autism information form

This form can be shared with autistic patients before their first clinical setting meeting to help practitioners better understand their autism-related needs. It is free to download and use.

Funders and partners

This project benefits from the contributions of external funders and partners.


Contact us

If you have a question about this research or would like to know more, please contact us.


[1] - This project is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic Programme. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.