WASHINGTON - Transgender and gender non-conforming people face rampant discrimination in health care settings, are regularly denied needed care, and experience a range of health risks because they are transgender or gender non-conforming, according to a report of over 6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming people. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey: Report on Health and Health Care has been released nationally by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality.
KEY HEALTH CARE FINDINGS
Access to health care is a fundamental human right that is regularly denied to transgender and gender non-conforming people.
Transgender and gender non-conforming people frequently experience discrimination when accessing health care, from disrespect and harassment to violence and outright denial of service. Participants in our study reported barriers to care whether seeking preventive medicine, routine and emergency care, or transgender-related services. These realities, combined with widespread provider ignorance about the health needs of transgender and gender non-conforming people, deter them from seeking and receiving quality health care.
The data consistently show that racial bias presents a significant, additional risk of discrimination for transgender and gender non-conforming people of color in virtually every major area of the study, making their health care access and outcomes dramatically worse.
âªâªSurvey participants reported very high levels of postponing medical care when sick or injured due to discrimination (28%) or inability to afford it (48%);
âªâªRespondents faced significant hurdles to accessing health care, including:
• Refusal of care: 19% of our sample reported being refused care due to their transgender or gender non-conforming status, with even higher numbers among people of color in the survey;
• Harassment and violence in medical settings: 28% of respondents were subjected to harassment in medical settings and 2% were victims of violence in doctor’s offices;
• Lack of provider knowledge: 50% of the sample reported having to teach their medical providers about transgender care;
âªâªDespite the barriers, the majority of survey participants have accessed some form of transition-related medical care; the majority reported wanting to have surgery but have not had any surgeries yet;
âªâªIf medical providers were aware of the patient’s transgender status, the likelihood of that person experiencing discrimination increased;
âªâªRespondents reported over four times the national average of HIV infection, 2.64% in our sample compared to .6% in the general population, with rates for transgender women at 3.76%, and with those who are unemployed (4.67%) or who have engaged in sex work (15.32%) even higher;
âªâªOver a quarter of the respondents misused drugs or alcohol specifically to cope with the discrimination they faced due to their gender identity or expression;
âªâªA staggering 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide compared to 1.6% of the general population, with unemployment, low income, and sexual and physical assault raising the risk factors significantly.