Taiwanese speech–language therapists’ awareness and experiences of service provision to transgender clients
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AbstractBackground: One of the most influential factors that affect the quality of life of transgender individuals is whether they can be perceived by others to ?pass? in their felt gender. Voice and communication style are two important identifying dimensions of gender and many transgender individuals wish to acquire a voice that matches their gender. Evidence shows that few transgender individuals access voice therapy, and that this is caused by their concerns about stigmatization or negative past experiences within healthcare services. In order to address the negative experiences faced by transgender populations we need a better understanding of healthcare services? current levels of knowledge and LGBT awareness. Some studies of Speech?Language Therapists? (SLTs?) experience and confidence working with transgender individuals have recently been undertaken in the United States (US). However, little research has been carried out in Asia.Aims: To investigate Taiwanese SLTs? knowledge, attitudes and experiences of providing transgender individuals with relevant therapy.Method: A cross-sectional self-administered web-based survey hosted on the Qualtrics platform was delivered to 140 Taiwanese SLTs.Results: Taiwanese SLTs were, (i) more familiar with the terminology used to address ?lesbian, gay, and bisexual groups? than with ?transgender? terminology, (ii) generally positive in their attitudes toward transgender individuals, and (iii) comfortable about providing clinical services to transgender clients. However, the majority of participants did not feel that they were sufficiently skilled in working with transgender individuals, even though most believed that providing them with voice and communication services fell within the SLT scope of practice.Conclusion: It is important for clinicians to both be skilled in transgender voice and communication therapy and to be culturally competent when providing services to transgender individuals. This study recommends that cultural competence relating to gender and sexual minority groups should be addressed in SLTs? university education as well as in their continuing educational programs.