Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


In the field of social justice and integrity, Social Work has dedicated itself to improving the welfare of the world, in which we all participate and interact. There are countless issues in our society that warrant professional attention for the fundamental purpose of positively impacting the livelihood of subcategories of people. For this particular Capstone Project, the focus is on transgender individuals’ systemic healthcare barriers that cisgender people within the United States do not similarly experience. The purpose is to unveil these disparities to then pose progressive alterations within the healthcare system to make the navigation and accessibility better for transgender folks.

Researching the current practices from all angles of professionals who interact with patients seeking any form of care within the United States healthcare system revealed ongoing diversity training and preparedness issues, but not necessarily lacking fundamental skills from these professionals. The lack of anticipation of working with the trans community is an utter disservice and further supports the marginalization that directly correlates to mental and physical health disparities that transgender individuals experience compared to cisgender experiences. Exclusion from healthcare accessibility and the professional knowledge base warrants permanent improvement.

The first product of the Capstone is a systematic literature review to examine how health insurances commonly deny preauthorizations for preventative and trans-affirming care and their current policies and procedures that ensure the welfare of their trans members. The review aimed to answer the question: In what ways are insurance companies within the United States working to eradicate systemic oppression and prevent future healthcare inequity for transgender patients? The information, and the lack thereof, lends implications to how social workers participate within these stakeholders and the ethical duty to support vital changes for transgender healthcare.

Product two is the conceptual portion that details the disparities in the lived experiences of trans people compared to those who are cisgender. Focusing on available literature and theory, the lack of research on transgender experiences broadly relates to our society’s cisnormative expectations of one another. It highlights how the anticipated gender and sex congruence creates a sense of oddity and difference. This chapter presents several aspects of our society that perpetuates trans concealment and provides an overview of why the well-being of the transgender community needs to improve how our healthcare professionals and stakeholders interact and serve this population.

Product three is the practice application paper, which encourages social workers working within health insurances to consider a redesign of the way they interact and support trans members, but also how to advocate for internal changes within these healthcare insurances to make their efforts productive. The objective is to improve the comfortability and accessibility of transgender individuals to seek preventative and trans-affirming care.

This Capstone Project revealed a common theme that, despite not being a small community, transgender individuals are seen as anomalies. Trans care is not considered in the realm of preparedness, but instead as just something to ‘cross that bridge once we get there,’ which is unacceptable, harmful, and dangerous.

Available for download on Monday, May 13, 2024