More than 800 Americans have died since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States but transgender activists are speaking out about how people who seek to alter their biological sex through hormone treatments are suffering during the viral health challenge.
The pandemic has caused U.S. health official to stop the delivery of non-essential medical treatment to reserve resources to fight the virus. This has hurt transgenders, activists argue in a Newsweek report:
The pandemic has less visible consequences unique to vulnerable communities, like the additional burden placed on transgender people.
Widespread closures and the strain placed on health care systems have thrown up obstacles to trans people like Tally the Witch author Molly Landgraff, who has experienced disruptions to her hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Many trans women use oral doses of hormones, but everyone’s body responds in a different way to the hormone treatments and some, like myself, are unable to metabolize the hormones effectively via pills,” Landgraff told Newsweek.
“Heading to the hospital to get my HRT shots administered is undesirable both for putting the additional workload on already strained staff and for the dramatically increased risk of exposure during the inevitable wait times at the emergency or urgent care clinics.”
While some trans women administer injections at home, many, like Landgraff, receive injections at clinics that are subject to the kind of disruptions many businesses have experienced, while receiving HRT shots at overburdened hospitals means risking exposure to COVID-19. For trans people, this could mean losing the pathways to drug access they’ve previously depended on, a problem exacerbated by shipping disruptions. Landgraff anticipates border closures and other medical supply shortages presenting additional challenges.
“I have to obtain my hormone doses from a compounding pharmacy lab, and I have, even under normal circumstances, been obligated to wait for weeks or even months for them to get supplies,” Landgraff said.
Newsweek found transgender advocates for its report, including Dr. Alexis Chavez, a psychiatrist and medical director of the Trevor Project, which is focused in part on the high rate of suicide among those suffering from gender dysphoria.
“We know that trans people are less likely to have a primary care provider. They are more likely to delay necessary health care, because of all the negative outcomes that they and their peers have experienced: providers using the wrong names, or genders, or refusing to serve them,” Chávez told Newsweek.
“People really need a relationship with their primary health provider; more than any other time, people need that. So it’s something that can be really difficult for trans people,” Chavez said.
The Newsweek article also blamed legislation being crafting by state lawmakers across the country to protect children from life-altering treatment and surgery for causing harm to transgender people during the coronavirus outbreak.
“It’s so incredibly frustrating that people are using this pandemic as essentially a cover, to say, ‘Let’s try and pass these things through, let’s try to make these really discriminatory laws happen while no one is paying attention,'” Chavez said.
“In the midst of a global pandemic, Idaho legislators are focused on singling out and excluding transgender student-athletes—it is shameful,” The Trevor Project’s Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs Sam Brinton said in a statement provided to Newsweek. “The Trevor Project condemns H.B. 500, an unfair and unnecessary bill, and urges Governor Little to reject it. Our elected officials should be expanding opportunities for trans students, not further marginalizing a group already at high risk for bullying and discrimination.”
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