Understanding Trans Health

“One of the most impressive trans books I’ve read. Pearce’s research is of the utmost importance – her writing accessible, her conclusions transformational.”

– CN Lester, author of Trans Like Me.

Understanding trans health


From 2010 to 2017, I undertook a research project looking at how trans healthcare services are experienced, practised and talked about in the UK. This book summarises my findings.

I analyse how historical developments, shifting language, patient mistrust, waiting lists and professional power all shape clinical encounters, and explore what a better future might look like for trans patients.

Understanding Trans Health is now available from bookstores around the world.


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“This is an important, well-researched and original book. Trans health is a vital topic and Ruth Pearce’s ethnography offers a rich blend of theory and research. Pearce places the subject of transgender health firmly within a nexus of questions about temporality, activism, bodily epistemologies and ethics of care and she offers a wide ranging account of what transgender health care looks like and what it could and should become. A crucial new addition to the growing body of work on transgender experience.”

Prof Jack Halberstam, Columbia University, author of Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Guide to Gender Variability.


“This book offers sophisticated yet clear explanations of the terrain of trans health in the UK, with superb analytic purchase – made all the more impressive by its accessibility and candour.”

– Dr Ben Vincent, Department of Sociology, University of York.

“Overall, this timely and well-researched book provides an excellent summary of contemporary debates and challenges in trans health. Pearce’s outstanding combination of social theory, patient discourse and autobiography offer a unique insight into what it means to be a trans patient in the UK.”

– Hannah Hirst, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool.

“Pearce’s work expertly engages multiple audiences as this book has wide appeal to social scientists, trans studies scholars, and patients and medical providers working in trans health care. Understanding Trans Health offers a refreshing perspective on trans health from the voices and experiences of binary and nonbinary people. That the book is one of the few written by a trans person studying patient experiences in health care alone makes it novel. The use of social media further pushes our thinking around growing movements that share information and also organize in online forums.”

– Dr stef m. shuster, Department of Sociology, Michigan State University.

“A well-written book that draws on online research, academic theory and UK policy to explore trans communities and trans health. It highlights a variety of trans community perspectives, and provides important context to many contemporary discussions about trans rights and trans health. The book may also be more broadly of interest to those with an interest in relationships between health professionals and their patients, or to researchers looking for examples of online ethnographic research.”

– Dr Michael Toze, Community and Health Research Unit, University of Lincoln.

“This valuable book provides an innovative approach to trans health weaving personal narrative, sociological theories and activist perspectives. It makes a vital contribution to promoting health equality for trans people.”

– Prof Julie Fish, Centre for LGBTQ Research, De Montfort University.

“This highly topical book addresses the key issues of trans people’s health, identity, and social change. It offers an innovative critical perspective regarding the medical establishment and trans activism.”

– Prof Surya Monro, School of Human and Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield.