Unequal Protection

Transgender Americans and health care

By Elizabeth Foy Larsen

S2018_UnequalProtection_Inline300If you are transgender or a person who is gender nonconforming (GNC), you’ve grown accustomed to the public debating the restrooms you use and whether or not you should serve in the military. Meanwhile, there’s an issue that doesn’t get as much public attention that may be critical when it comes to your daily life: access to health care.

The U’s School of Public Health confronted that challenge head on by contributing to a national study that shows transgender and GNC individuals experience reduced access to care, which could have negative consequences for their long-term health. Led by U Assistant Professor Carrie Henning-Smith and Vanderbilt University Assistant Professor Gilbert Gonzales (Ph.D. ’15), researchers compiled data from the 2014-2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a survey of U.S. residents that looks at health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and the use of preventive services.

The study found that not only are transgender men and women more likely to be uninsured than people who are cisgender—meaning people who identify with the sex they were assigned at birth—transgender men are less likely to have a physician they rely on for routine care. As a result, transgender and GNC individuals are more likely to have missed a physical in the past year.

This study was published in December in the The Milbank Quarterly.
(H/T to U science and news writer Charlie Plain.)

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