Although the therapist portrayed in TransAmerica is highly competent in dealing with Bree's transgender conundrum, in real life the majority of health care professionals are completely unprepared to address these types of issues, according to Michael D. Shankle, M.P.H., a research specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH), department of infectious diseases and microbiology and editor of the newly published The Handbook of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Public Health: A Practitioner's Guide to Service.
"When most health care practitioners think about lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender health, they immediately conjure up images of HIV and AIDS. However, the public health landscape for sexual minorities is much larger and significantly more complicated than just sexually transmitted diseases. That is why there is a great need for this handbook," he explained.
Mr. Shankle said that the lack of in-depth knowledge about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, issues by practitioners often leads to less-than-optimal delivery of health care and other public services. For example, many lesbian and bisexual women may not undergo routine reproductive examinations. Therefore, they tend to be diagnosed with reproductive cancers at a significantly later stage then their heterosexual counterparts.
"Unfortunately, many health care providers don't emphasize