COVID-19 pandemic linked to reduced access to gender-affirming care in 76 countries

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A survey offered to transgender and non-binary people across six continents and in thirteen languages ​​shows that in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, many faced reduced access to gender-affirming resources, and this reduction was linked to poorer mental health. Brooke Jarrett of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues present findings in open access journal PLOS ONE July 9.

Gender-affirming resources, which can include healthcare such as surgery and / or hormone therapy as well as gender-affirming services and products, are well known to dramatically improve mental health and the quality of the patient. lives of transgender and non-binary people. However, factors such as transphobia, lack of adequate training of clinicians and individual economic insecurity can hamper access to these resources.

Meanwhile, growing evidence suggests that measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 have exacerbated these challenges. For example, people may have had to cancel gender affirmation surgeries that were seen as elective. Or they may have had to move in with non-supportive parents and spend more time living by their assigned birth sex instead of their actual sex.

To better understand the global impact of the COVID-19 crisis on transgender and non-binary people, Jarrett and his colleagues interviewed 964 adults residing in 76 countries through the Hornet and Her social networking apps. The survey, conducted between April and August 2020, asked participants about how the pandemic had affected their access to resources affirming gender, mental health and financial stability.

Statistical analyzes of survey responses showed that approximately half of the participants experienced reduced access to gender-affirming resources during the study period. Almost 40% said the pandemic had reduced their ability to live based on their gender. Many also said they expected financial hardship, such as a possible reduction in income and possible loss of health insurance. Those who reported reduced access to gender-affirming resources also had an increased prevalence of depressive symptoms, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

The researchers say their findings underscore the need to increase and secure access to gender-affirming resources in order to improve the health of transgender and non-binary people, during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

The authors add: “Transgender communities, which already face a myriad of health inequalities, have suffered even greater health challenges as a result of restrictions imposed during COVID, such as reduced access to treatment and resources. mental health affirming gender. Moving forward, we must support trans communities with policies that make gender-affirming health care affordable, accessible and recognized as essential. ”

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Citation: Jarrett BA, Peitzmeier SM, Restar A, Adamson T, Howell S, Baral S, et al. (2021) Gender-affirming Care, Mental Health, and Economic Stability in the Era of COVID-19: A Multinational, Cross-sectional Study on Transgender and Non-Binary People. PLoS A 16 (7): e0254215. https: //do I.org /ten.1371 /newspaper.pone.0254215

Funding: BAJ, SWB and SDB were supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (F31MH121128, K01MH114715, R01MH110358) respectively. SWB also receives funding from Viiv Healthcare. AJR was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (grant T32AI102623). Funders played no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that there is no competing interest.

In your cover, please use this URL to provide access to the article available for free in PLOS ONE: https: //journals.plos.org /plosone /article? id =ten.1371 /newspaper.pone.0254215

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