Trans People Are Speaking Out About Their Horrible Experiences With Health Care
While more coverage of people like Caitlyn Jenner and more trans TV characters may make trans narratives more visible, there's a lot of nuance about being trans we don't see. But one hashtag popped up on Monday to shed light on the way health providers have failed trans patients, with #TransHealthFail.
The new organization behind the hashtag, MyTransHealth, plans to connect trans people with "qualified, understanding" doctors, first in New York City and Miami, and eventually in cities across the country, according to BuzzFeed. It will be a while yet before the organization can mobilize its recently raised funds to make tangible care a reality, but members of the trans community and their allies were encouraged to share the obstacles and discrimination they've faced when seeking care in order to raise awareness about this issue.
"We wanted something that really started the conversation we think needs to happen, and we wanted to involve more of our community," Amelia Gapin, the co-founder of MyTransHealth, told BuzzFeed.
A conversation has certainly started, illuminating several key barriers trans people face. Many noted, for example, that health care providers are simply ignorant about how to care for trans people, and often conflate their transgender identity with all physical health issues.
Studies have shown that the majority of medical schools do, in fact, fail to incorporate LGBT health issues and care into their curriculum. "The lack of knowledgeable providers represents the greatest barrier to transgender medical care," wrote the authors of one study on the topic.
As if this ignorance isn't egregious enough, plenty of doctors and nurses add insult to injury by using pejorative terms, diminishing language or blatantly mocking trans patients.
Putting people at risk: These types of experiences may contribute to the fact that 28% of trans individuals postponed medical care because they feared they'd face discrimination while seeking health care, according to one 2011 study. The same study found that the same amount, 28%, had in fact been subjected to harassment in a medical setting, that 26% had been physically assaulted in at least one health care facility and 19% had been refused care outright because of their identity.
Additionally, trans individuals face systemic issues, like a health care system that fails to take trans individuals' unique needs or experiences into consideration and even makes the services and medications they need unaffordable and/or inaccessible.
While allowing trans individuals to air their grievances through this forum is crucial, it's equally important that it doesn't become an echo chamber — that non-trans-identified allies take note and support these calls for change. As noted video game developer and feminist advocate Brianna Wu tweeted, "All cisgender people should read #transhealthfail. The discrimination, degradation and cost of getting life-saving treatment is deplorable."