Coronavirus and Our Community

by Dr. David Baker-Hargrove

Healthcare and staying healthy is on everyone’s mind right now. Questions and uncertainty abound. When will this end? What if I lose my job? What if I run out of money? Am I particularly at risk for infection?

In fact, the LGBTQ+ community is particularly vulnerable to the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus. We are more likely to work in industries highly-impacted by the pandemic, and we tend to have more health risk factors than the general population. Worse, when considering the transgender and nonbinary community by itself, the impact on health and economic hardship is even higher. The transgender community has already been at an economic and health disadvantage.

Discrimination in Healthcare

While the virus doesn’t discriminate, one of the biggest problems transgender and nonbinary people face currently is actually a problem that existed all along: access to healthcare that is affordable, gender-affirming, and trans-health informed. Despite laws being enacted during the last administration to prohibit discrimination in the healthcare setting, there is currently little to no enforcement or oversight.

The National Center for Transgender Equality’s (NCTE) most recent survey on the experiences of transgender people reveals “widespread patterns of mistreatment, discrimination and startling disparities between transgender people and the U.S. population when it comes to the most basic elements of life, such as finding a job, having a safe place to live, accessing medical care, and enjoying the support of family and community.” This level of discrimination, stigma, lack of acceptance and abuse also creates mental health problems, as the American Psychological Association estimates over half of all transgender and nonbinary people struggle with depression, anxiety and/or other mental health issues.

Be Mindful of Your Health

The NCTE also reports on their website that transgender people share the same physical health disparities as LGB people. As they are more likely to use tobacco (the coronavirus is especially harmful to smokers), they have higher rates of HIV and cancer, and it is estimated that 1 in 5 transgender adults have at least one chronic condition such as diabetes, arthritis or asthma. Any of these elements could make transgender people more susceptible to serious or life-threatening symptoms of the coronavirus.

It is imperative we follow the guidelines and recommendations put forth by the CDC and Dr. Fauci about keeping ourselves healthy and safe during this period. This is a great time to become more mindful of your health and your health habits. Recently, I came across this quote from Dr. Wayne Dyer, “Healthy habits are learned in the same way as unhealthy ones – through practice.” For those of us in the transgender and non-binary community, I realize that going to the doctor for regular visits (other than the HRT visit) to check on your health can be intimidating and fearful. It’s also important to talk to your HRT prescriber about any and all health concerns during your visit. At 26Health, we commit to your complete wellness.

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