How the COVID-19 pandemic affects transgender health care in upper-middle income and high income countries - A worldwide, cross-sectional survey [article]

Andreas Koehler, Joz Motmans, Leo Mulio Alvarez, David Azul, Karen Badalyan, Koray Basar, Cecilia Dhejne, Dragana Duisin, Bartosz Grabski, Aurore Dufrasne, Natasa Jokic-Begic, Antonio Prunas (+4 others)
2020 medRxiv   pre-print
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to medical care was restricted for nearly all non-acute medical conditions. Due to their status as a vulnerable social group and the inherent need for transition-related treatments (e.g., hormone treatment), transgender people are assumed to be affected particularly severely by the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aims to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and health care of transgender people.
more » ... hods and findings As an ad hoc collaboration between researchers, clinicians, and 23 community organizations, we developed a web-based survey. The survey was translated into 26 languages, and participants were recruited via various social media and LGBTIQ-community sources. Recruitment started in May 2020. We assessed demographical data, physical and mental health problems (e.g., chronic physical conditions), risk factors (e.g., smoking), COVID-19 data (symptoms, contact history, knowledge and concerns about COVID-19), and the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to transgender health care and health-related supplies. To identify factors associated with the experience of restrictions to transgender health care, we conducted multivariate logistic regression analysis. 5267 transgender people from 63 higher-middle income and high-income countries participated in the study. Over 50% of the participants had risk factors for a severe course of a COVID-19 infection and were at a high risk of avoiding testing or treatment of a COVID-19 infection due to the fear of mistreatment or discrimination. Access to transgender health care services was restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic for 50% of the participants. Male sex assigned at birth and a lower monthly income were significant predictors for the experience of restrictions to health care. 35.0% of the participants reported at least one mental health conditions. Every third participant had suicidal thoughts, and 3.2% have attempted suicide since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. A limitation of the study is that we did not analyze data from low-income countries and access to the internet was necessary to participate. Conclusions Transgender people are assumed to suffer under the severity of the pandemic even more than the general population due to the intersections between their status as a vulnerable social group, their high amount of medical risk factors, and their need for ongoing medical treatment. The COVID-19 pandemic can potentiate these vulnerabilities, add new challenges for transgender individuals, and, therefore, can lead to devastating consequences, like severe physical or mental health issues, self-harming behaviour, and suicidality.
doi:10.1101/2020.12.23.20248794 fatcat:hhlyeeurdbb5jaotoog2uttaqa