Tag Archives: LGBT wellness

Many Transgender People are Completely Avoiding Doctors

It can be difficult for many individuals to have discussions about their sexual history with a physician. It’s not uncommon for people to consider it uncomfortable. But, for many transgender people, the conversation never happens because they do not seek out health care, according to Adrian Juarez, PhD, a public health nurse and assistant professor in the University at Buffalo School of Nursing.

A preliminary study (“Examining the Role of Social Networks on Venue-Based HIV Testing Access and Decision Making in an Urban, Transgendered Population”) that examined health-based decision making and access to HIV testing in urban, transgender populations, showed that many transgender individuals withheld from pursuing necessary care due to social stigma and lack of affordability.

Many Transgender People are Completely Avoiding Doctors

“There is evidence that health care providers do tend to be judgmental, and it’s unwelcoming,” says Juarez.  Of course, people are not going to visit health care providers if they fear that they’re going to face discrimination and stigma.

The results of the study are especially cause for concern because, according to a 2009 report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about one third of transgender people in the U.S. are HIV positive. And, transgender women of color are even more at risk of HIV infection. According to the NIH study, more than 56 percent of black transgender women are HIV positive.

Among other reasons, an inability to afford medical care is keeping transgender patients away from doctors. Transgender people are more than twice as likely to be homeless and four times more likely to experience extreme poverty (compared to the general population)…having a household income of less than $10,000 per year. This data comes from a 2011 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality. It’s not as if it’s easy for transgender people to get work, either. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, out of more than 6,000 transgender people surveyed in the nation, 90 percent said they were subject to mistreatment, harassment, and discrimination at work.

If a transgender person does happen to visit a healthcare provider, some doctors are not informed on how to properly treat the  patients. Juarez says, “It puzzles me how doctors will still refer to trans individuals by their biological name. That’s their identity.”

The line between identifying and biological gender can be blurry in healthcare settings. For example, transgender men still need Pap smears and transgender women need prostate screenings, but some health care providers might not offer these tests in order to keep from making suggestions that go against the patient’s identified gender. There is an urgent need to address stigmatization and provide health care professionals education on how to appropriately and compassionately treat transgender patients.

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New Jersey Schools Still No Stranger to Gay Hate

Now, with social media, it is easier than ever to discover the views and routines of the people that we work with through websites like Facebook where one can “like” a post and have it show up in the newsfeeds of friends and even friends of friends. Of course the downside of this is that private opinion can quickly become public. Such was the case when Reverend Warren Hall, one of the directors at Seton Hall University in New Jersey “liked” a gay equality “No H8” photo on facebook.

Reverend Warren Hall claims that the facebook post cost him his job. Seton Hall University declines to comment on the incident, but the Reverend states that the incident is reason to address the issue of LGBT rights more frequently among religious organizations. The anti-gay Facebook comments that were allegedly made by a High School teacher earlier this year leads one to wonder if the New Jersey School system needs to address LGBT issues more frequently. New Jersey Human Rights laws do prohibit bullying and discrimination in schools, but the failure of the state to fire teachers such as Knox that make anti-gay remarks in the name of free speech smacks of an ineptitude for truly resolving LGBT rights issues.

New Jersey Schools Still No Stranger to Gay Hate

The real issue here is not just one of privacy and discrimination. The mood of a nation is being threatened by a stigma, and it’s this same stigma that prevents LGBT youths and young adults from seeking the health counseling that they need. The failure of the education system to address LGBT sexual health and relationships is perhaps the biggest obstacle in the fight against the spread of STDs, so it is important that people in communities where injustices like this occur raise their voices.

If you are interested in becoming more involved in your community’s awareness of LGBT issues the website http://www.lgbtcenters.org/ has local directories.