- Demand for transgender-healthcare far outstrips the availability of affirming, competent providers, particularly in rural and exurban areas.
- Transgender people are more likely to have inadequate insurance coverage and travel long distances to the healthcare providers.
- The 2015 US Transgender Survey revealed that about 25 percent of the respondents reported that they avoid seeking necessary healthcare out of the fear of being treated negatively due to their gender identity.
Transgender-focused medical care goes online to address underserved trans patients who need treatment according to transgender latest news by the Vice website on January 11.
QueerMed, a telehealth practice based in Atlanta, Georgia, provides medical care focusing on transgender patients virtually through videoconference and other tools. The company covers five states across the Southeast.
More personalized, less intrusive
For M., a non-binary and transgender, QueerMed gave relief from the hassle of visiting trans healthcare clinics.
“I don’t feel I have to jump through any hoops—it’s all through an app on my smartphone,” M., whose requested anonymity as they had not disclosed trans status at work. “I can access labs, forward labs, send secure texts to the doctor’s practice.”
With QueerMed, M. felt the healthcare that was provided was more personalized and less intrusive.
Initially, M. sought care at local Planned Parenthood clinic in South Carolina for gender dysphoria, the distress brought about by the mismatch of gender assigned at birth and gender identity.
Although the staff were caring, M. claimed that clinic lacked funding and the adequate number of personnel. Follow-up appointments were scheduled on a long waiting list.
“It was almost like musical chairs,” they said, “with more people than seats.”
Soon after M. started hormone therapy for transition, there were lapses that lasted for about a month due to delay in delivery of care.
Transgender people tend to travel farther and have less insurance coverage compared to other sexual minorities.
Among transgender and non-binary people, 14 percent of them lived more than one-hour drive away from their primary care providers according to one study on sexual minorities in rural areas. In contrast, only 5 percent of gay and cisgender parts had similar situation.
Additionally, respondents of the 2015 The US Transgender Survey also reported that they were more likely to travel farther for transition-related care than for routine care.
They also are more likely than cisgender people to have no health insurance, and around 25 percent reported that the cost of gender-confirming therapy through hormonal or surgical procedures was a barrier for them in no receiving it.
Trans patients also reported negative experiences on the basis of their gender identity when visiting a provider’s office.
According to the US Transgender Survey, one-third said that they had negative experience when seeing a healthcare provider. Furthermore, about 25 percent reported that they avoid seeking necessary healthcare out of the fear of being treated negatively due to their gender identity.
Associations of doctors, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, have urged their members in giving transition-related healthcare to people with gender dysphoria. However, many are reluctant to do so because of fear of making mistakes, lacking in knowledge and even acknowledging bias.
Thus, the availability of competent healthcare focusing on transgender needs fell behind its demand. Physicians delivering transgender-focused care are also scarce.
These factors create a vacuum of trans-competent healthcare doctors especially for
transgender people in rural and exurban locations, a gap that telehealth services can potentially fill in.