Outlining Health Disparities faced by Transmen and the Intervention Efforts of Healthcare Organizations”

A Research Brief by: Yamani Vinson

YVApproximately 0.6% (1.4 million) of the US adult population identifies as transgender. Transgender individuals are twice as likely to be unemployed, more likely to experience abuse, and have a lower socioeconomic status than their cisgender counterparts. Healthcare providers have become stronger "health allies" for the cisgender LGBT community, but the same efforts have not been made for transgender men. The lack of empirical research highlighting the health experience of transgender men creates an education gap for medical professionals. This breach in information impacts how trans-men manage their health.

Trans people are more likely to be discriminated against in comparison to the cis-population. In 2016, a national survey (n=1,711 trans-men) found that 40% experienced discrimination from a healthcare provider and 69% of trans-men reported that their gender identity "created a problem for them when going for a physical". This creates distrust in providers and fear of discrimination makes it common for trans-men to visit hospitals only in emergency situations. The decline in healthcare visits puts trans-men at high risk for fatal illnesses. Hyperandrogenic disorders, like polycystic ovary syndrome, are linked to abrupt rises in testosterone and can increase the risk of endometriosis and cancer(s). It is frequent that trans-men will administer their own hormone replacement therapy without medical supervision.

Health disparities faced by transgender men challenge their mental, physical and emotional well-being at every stage of life. Many trans-men reported having to educate their providers about their experience. Because healthcare providers have binary expectations of gender identity, the welfare of transgender men is challenged unintentionally. Most healthcare providers lack the didactics and empathy needed to provide quality care to trans-men. In fact, most organizations have just recently begun to address these concerns, making this an ongoing health care management issue. Fortunately, in Michigan, organizations like Michigan Medicine, Henry Ford Health System, and Corner Health Center (CHC), have been accredited for their efforts to accommodate the healthcare needs of trans-men. CHC offers supportive services for trans-men throughout every stage of transitioning. CHC presents primary care, mental health support, hormone replacement therapy (with informed consent), insurance enrollment, and opportunities for trans-patients to hold executive board positions. Because health inequities faced by trans-men are not exclusive to Michigan, it may behoove other healthcare organizations to adopt initiatives similar to those at CHC.

Call to Action

Trans-health inequities are a national epidemic. Providing a database of organizations/departments specializing in trans-healthcare is suggested to increase patient awareness. There also needs to be more research on the health status/experience of trans-men. This research should be used to design toolkits, sensitivity training, and textbooks for service providers to enhance the quality of care available.

The topics discussed here will be expanded in upcoming research efforts. If you have any questions or are interested in supporting the database, please contact Yamani Rikia Vinson.

I would like to thank Dr. Ebbin Dotson, Mr. Christopher Clarke, and Sharonda Simmons for all of their support and guidance throughout this research project.