Transgender Health Concerns
The following health concerns are relevant to many transgender and gender-expansive people (sometimes called gender non-binary or gender non-conforming). While these issues may not apply to everyone, they are important for everyone and their health providers to consider.
Barriers to Health Care
Some transgender people may not consult health care services because they have had negative experiences with doctors in the past. For that reason, organizations such as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) have created resources to help transgender people find knowledgeable, supportive, caring and compassionate providers in their communities.
For the best care possible, people should feel empowered to take an active role in their health by:
- Voicing concerns if something doesn’t seem right.
- Asking questions if they are unsure about any information.
Being forthcoming about any medications and past surgeries, as these may affect treatment plans and preventive care options.
Transgender and gender-expansive people face a disproportionately high risk of physical and sexual violence in our society, much of which is motivated by hate or fear, and stems from a lack of understanding and acceptance. This violence can be perpetrated by loved ones, family and friends, or strangers, and can occur in the home, school, workplace or on the street.
Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate partner violence (sometimes called domestic violence) involves physical or emotional harm by a significant other — usually a partner, spouse or date. Typically, intimate partner violence begins with verbal threats and escalates to physical abuse, which is why it’s important to recognize it early and get help as soon as possible. Intimate partner violence often involves manipulation and control.
Some of the barriers faced by gender-expansive survivors of intimate partner violence include:
- Access to support services.
- Lack of training on the part of service providers.
- Discrimination in shelters.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has information on services and organizations that are inclusive and supportive of trans survivors.
Research suggests that gender non-conforming people face intimate partner violence at much higher rates than other adults, but victims may be hesitant to seek help because they fear discrimination from law enforcement and health care providers. Sadly, not all intimate partner violence resources accommodate transgender and gender-expansive people, but specific assistance is available in certain areas.
Twenty-six percent of transgender and gender-expansive adults report being fired because of their identity. Because gender non-conforming people face such extreme job discrimination, some may turn to sex work as a last resort. This puts them at far greater risk of physical and sexual violence. Make sure you know your rights as an employee.