At a fundamental level, gender-affirming care involves affirming a person’s gender identity and creating a safe space for them to explore how they may want to express their gender identity in the world. This type of supportive approach is crucial to the mental and physical health of the individual seeking this care. Gender-affirming care involves knowledgeable and sympathetic healthcare providers, family and community members, and friends who support the individual based on their particular needs.
Most individuals seek this care because they feel the sex they were assigned at birth does not match their felt sense of gender. This gender incongruence is a diagnosable psychiatric condition known as gender dysphoria. If left untreated, gender dysphoria can lead to depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, which sometimes results in suicide.
Because no two patients are the same, gender-affirming care treats individuals holistically, respecting that each person is the ultimate expert of their own experience. As such, gender-affirming care may include mental health, non-medical, and medical services for transgender and nonbinary people.