Introduction Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affected around 1% of the general population but has been reported in 7.8% of childhood gender identity clinic referrals. Gender identity is an increasing healthcare focus; the United Kingdom’s only childhood gender identity clinic witnessed a 930% increase in referrals in six years, with Sussex having the highest adult service referral rates. This study aims to assess healthcare professionals’ awareness of a co-occurrence between ASD and transgender, identify resources and determine how these could be improved, based on the needs and concerns of individuals.
Methods A service evaluation of healthcare professionals who frequently see individuals about ASD and/or gender identity was conducted in Brighton. An anonymised online questionnaire, created using Survey Monkey, was accessible from January 2017 until March 2017. Participants were contacted via NHS emailing lists with explanatory information and a survey link. Quantitative data was collated as raw data and percentages. Qualitative data was organised into tables and key themes identified.
Results Limited evidence suggests that healthcare professionals were unaware of an association between ASD and transgender and most were unsure if resources existed. Most felt that training would improve care, with a particular focus on local and online resources, referral pathways and current research evidence. Mental health issues, family concerns about gender identity interventions, not being accepted and vulnerability were major concerns.
Discussion Co-occurring ASD and transgender is under-recognised by healthcare professionals. Future resources should focus on the specific needs and concerns of these individuals and aim to raise awareness.
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