Access to Health Care
Transgender people face massive and systemic discrimination within the health care system. From instances of humiliation and degradation to outright refusals to provide care, the health care system presents a minefield of discrimination for transgender people seeking to access care. The end result is a community-wide disengagement from the health care system that results in dire health outcomes for transgender people. Rather than enduring abuse and poor treatment, transgender people often simply do without health care. As a result of this disengagement, treatable medical conditions routinely become emergency medical problems, a common situation in communities with suboptimal access to care.
The situation is made worse because in many ways, transgender people have a greater-than-average need to access health care. Transition-related hormone treatments and surgical procedures require partnership with a trustworthy health care provider. The alarming rate of HIV infection in parts of the transgender community similarly points to a heightened need for transgender people to access health care without fear of discrimination and poor treatment.
Where transgender people cannot access health care in a safe and non-discriminatory manner, they often will find what they need outside the mainstream health care system. The use of “street” hormones, with little direction or medical supervision, is one way that transgender people get what they need when they opt out of the mainstream health care system. Such hormones are often unsafe and unclean, and can seriously harm those who use them. When such hormones are injected, the risk of transmission of HIV and other blood borne pathogens through needle sharing is ever-present.
TLDEF works to reduce, and ultimately end, the prejudice that transgender people face in the health care system. We strive to re-engage the transgender community with culturally competent health care providers to ensure that transgender people have access to care and the hope of improved health outcomes.