Decision-making Criteria When Contemplating Disclosure of Transgender Identity to Medical Providers

L. Brooke Friley, Maria K. Venetis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


As identified in HealthyPeople 2020, the transgender population faces various barriers in accessing quality health care. One barrier includes the fear of negative response or refusal of treatment after disclosing one’s transgender identity. In an effort to address this concern, it is essential to understand the criteria that transgender patients consider when determining if they will disclose their gender identity. The disclosure decision-making model (DD-MM) describes how individuals make decisions to share non-visible, health-relevant information with others. Applying the information assessment component of the DD-MM, the present study investigated the salient information assessment themes that contribute to transgender patients’ decisions to disclose or withhold their gender identity from medical providers. The sample (N = 26) included transgender individuals who participated in in-depth interviews and described instances and criteria of disclosure decisions. Results revealed that when gauging stigma, participants consider cultural attitudes, how providers may attribute health concerns to their transgender identity, and if providers will perceive them as “trans enough” to provide access to transition-related care. When transition-related care is not necessary, participants’ disclosure decision criteria include thoughts on how providers will perceive their gender expression and whether their transgender identity is salient to the medical interaction. Findings also highlighted opportunities for extending prior theoretical conceptualizations and practical implications for transgender care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHealth Communication
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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