World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH)
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health Inc (WPATH) was initially called the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association after one Harry Benjamin (1885 – 1986) and was established in 1979 by a Psychologist named Paul Allen Walker.
WPATH (The World Professional Association for Transgender Health) serves as an interdisciplinary, international non-profit organization that promotes evidence-based care, education, public policy, respect, advocacy, and research in transgender health. They often also work with any regional organizations with similar goals.
Doctors, psychologists, social workers, and anthropologists, among others, all work together to spread awareness and information in several different ways as far as possible. Anything from appropriate primary care to specialized things like communication therapy, urologic care, and education about reproductive options should be fundamental rights for transgender people.
WPATH was founded to try to protect the transgender community and overall transgender health. It was founded when concerns for transgender health were on the rise, and the transgender community and gender-nonconforming people started to make themselves known more within society.
There was also an increase in people seeking intervention in the form of sex reassignment surgeries, among other medical paths towards transition. While regional organizations were also popping up everywhere, it was essential to take the highest standards WPATH offered beyond specific regions.
There was a high degree of mistrust between the medical and transgender communities, and there was a lot of misunderstanding and problematic public policy. This led to a need for standardized and enforced safe and effective pathways to surgical treatments for gender dysphoria.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) published a document stipulating “medically necessary and appropriate” interventions regarding transition and other aspects of transgender health.
It specifically standardizes:
- Diagnostic and assessment protocols for health care providers
- Medical, surgical, psychological, and psychiatric care for transgender individuals
- A flexible framework for appropriate care
- Guiding clinical decisions related to medically necessary interventions for unique individual patients
The latest version is version 7, which was published in 2012. Version 8 is expected to be published in the spring of 2022.
This document is the cornerstone of health care provided to the transgender community. It is an in-depth document that provides specific guidelines on care in various situations and upholds treatment standards across the board. The document is readily available on the WPATH website and can be downloaded by anyone, free of charge.
Provide Clinical Guidance
WPATH (The World Professional Association for Transgender Health) emphasizes the importance of a relationship of mutual trust and respect between health care and transgender communities.
They promote evidence-based care for gender dysphoria and highlight the importance of psychological well-being. They also focus treatment on self-fulfillment and achieving lasting personal comfort through gender expression.
Mental Health Services
Gender identity is not categorized as a mental illness anymore, and the professional consensus at this time, thanks to efforts from WPATH, is that transgender and gender-nonconforming people should be encouraged to live their lives as their own authentic, diversely gendered selves.
Health Care and Medical Health Professionals
Medical professionals are being held to the highest standards, and part of their education now involves guidelines on handling cases with transgender patients. There is an increased focus on peer-reviewed research, and governing bodies are now actively promoting evidence-based care, backed up by expert professional consensus, on treatments for gender dysphoria.
The patient’s overall health is just as crucial as any transgender issues they might have, and acceptance within the medical community has primarily become public policy. There is an active movement towards interventions to assist transsexual patients on their path to self-actualization.
History of WPATH Leadership
Here is an overview of the presidents of WPATH since its founding.
- 1979 – 1981 Paul A Walker (PhD), a psychologist and the founder of WPATH.
- 1981 – 1983 Donald R Laub (MD), a plastic surgeon who developed the rectosigmoid vaginoplasty that is still used today.
- 1983 – 1985 Milton T Edgerton (MD), a plastic surgeon.
- 1985 – 1987 Ira B Pauly (MD), a psychiatrist.
- 1987 – 1989 Aaron T Bilowitz (MD)
- 1989 – 1991 Jan Walinder (MD)
- 1991 – 1995 Leah Schaefer (Ed.D)
- 1995 – 1997 Friedmann Pfaefflin (MD)
- 1997 – 1999 Richard Green (JD), a psychologist.
- 1999 Alice Webb (DHS) who had to step down due to illness.
- 1999 – 2003 Eli Coleman (PhD), a psychologist.
- 2003 – 2005 Walter Meyer III (MD), apparently a pediatric endocrinologist.
- 2005 – 2007 Stan Monstrey (MD), a plastic surgeon.
- 2007 – 2009 Stephan Whittle (PhD, OBE, LLB), a lawyer and the first transgender president, as well as the first non medical president.
- 2009 – 2011 Walter Bockting (PhD), a psychologist.
- 2011 – 2013 Lin Fraser (Ed.D)
- 2013 – 2015 Jamison Green (PhD)
- 2015 – 2018 Gail Knudson (MD)
- 2018 – 2020 Vin Tangricha (MD)
- 2020 – 2022 Walter Pierre Bauman (MD)