Rutgers Medical Student Creates App to Help Trans Patients Find Gender-Affirming Health Care Providers

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The TranZap is the first of its kind to help improve health care access for transgender patients

The TranZap is the first of its kind to help improve health care access for transgender patients

In the quest to advance a more inclusive health care system and foster innovation among its students, Rutgers is supporting the creation of an app called TranZap to serve as a health care resource guide for trans individuals to help them connect with gender-affirming health care providers and to equip them to make better and informed decisions about who they see for their medical needs.

The TranZap, the first of its kind in the area of health care technology, will collate shared experiences, either good or bad, of health care providers visited by transgender individuals. These experiences will be rated and reviewed by other trans patients, building a platform to provide the necessary information to make better-informed decisions on who they visit for medical needs. There will also be a referral program where health care providers can refer their patients to provide feedback on their service on the app.

The app, set to beta launch in October, was co-created by a Rutgers medical student, Taylor Chiang, who is transgender, and uses they/them pronouns. Chiang worked in collaboration with Rutgers, the PROUD Gender Center of New Jersey, other transgender outreach groups and co-founder Eli Lucherini of Princeton University. It was developed to meet a need and fill a void in the health care delivery space, which has shown to be discriminatory to transgender patients.

"As a transgender person myself, it has been daunting navigating the health care system with many providers who still need to be educated on the basic medical needs of trans individuals," said Chiang, a second-year medical student at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. "This can make it difficult and stressful for many trans patients, and I hope that this app will help provide the needed resources to help direct people to the right gender-affirming HCP."

Taylor Chiang, the second-year medical student at RWJMS and co-creator of TranZap.

Rutgers has been a pioneer in improving human health especially for the LGBTQ+ community by offering monetary grants that fund ideas supporting sexual minorities and providing the needed infrastructure to enable innovative students' ideas like Chiang's to flourish.  

According to a recent survey report published by the Center for American Progress, 62 percent of transgender people said they worried about being judged because of their sexual orientation or gender identity when seeking health care. Only 20 percent of respondents reported being satisfied with the health care they received or had no place to go when sick or needing advice about their health.

The COVID-19 pandemic worsened some health care disparities that already existed. Although the Biden administration reversed the previous government's federal law to discriminate against individuals based on gender identity or sexual orientation, discrimination among these patients in the health care system is still widespread.

"We're so proud and fully supportive of this app as it reaffirms our commitment as an institution to improve health care delivery among transgender patients," said Gloria Bachmann, professor and associate dean of Women's Health at Rutgers RWJMS. "Even more commendable is the amazing support from the Rutgers Institutional Review Board, other faculty members and physicians who continue to offer support and who oversee the developmental stages of the app to make sure all scientific research protocols are adhered to," added Bachmann, who is also the medical director of the PROUD Gender Center of New Jersey and director of the Women's Health Institute at Rutgers.