Transgender Discrimination Affects HIV and Overall Health

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) have released findings from the first large-scale national study on transgender people in the United States, highlighting the depth of transgender discrimination in a wide range of areas including health care.

“Injustice at Every Turn reveals the alarming results from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), which was based on responses from over 6,450 transgender Americans:

Discrimination in health care and poor health outcomes were frequently experienced by respondents. 19% reported being refused care due to bias against transgender people, with higher rates for respondents of color. 50% reported having to teach their medical providers about transgender care.

Respondents had over 4 times the national average of HIV infection, with higher rates among transgender people of color.

Respondents who had lost a job due to bias reported an HIV rate of 4.59%, over 7 times higher than the general population (0.6%), and more than double the rate of those who did not lose a job (2.06%).

Respondents who reported having to leave school due to harassment were HIV positive at a rate of 5.14% (more than 8 times the HIV rate of the general population, 0.6%), compared to 1.87% of respondents who did not.

On the brighter side, despite the hardships they often face, transgender people manage to persevere. Over 78% reported feeling more comfortable at work and that their performance improved after transitioning, despite the same levels of harassment in the workplace.

There remains an overwhelming need for transgender-sensitive health education, health care, and prevention programs. Information should be sought after in terms of health risks, outcomes, and needs in regards to transgender populations. Separate categories should be created for transgender women and transgender men so HIV rates can be accurately tracked and appropriately researched. This report reveals that we still have a long way to go in terms of equality, and that discrimination can impact all aspects of life, such as HIV disease and overall health care.