Transgender health depends on transgender rights – study
As recognition of LGBT rights grow, LGBT health issues are also being addressed. But not all recognition is equal, with transgender health becoming dependent on the protection of transgender rights.
This was the conclusion of a global study as 25 million transgender people worldwide face major obstacles in getting adequate medical care to address issues like depression and high rates of HIV.
Connection between transgender health, rights
Researchers from the University of Sheffield (UK), Johns Hopkins University (USA), Curtin University (Australia) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) gathered their data from the global transgender community.
Their conclusion? “Many of the health challenges faced by transgender people are exacerbated by laws and policies that deny them gender recognition,” said Associate Professor Sam Winter of Curtin University in Australia.
“In no other community is the link between rights and health so clearly visible as in the transgender community,” Winter said.
Transgender people often face marginalization because of stigma, discrimination, and abuse. Because of this, transgenders have higher rates of depression of up to 60 percent.
Transgenders are also at a greater risk of engaging in risky behavior like sex work or drug use because of their isolation. This means that they are at almost 50 times greater risk of getting HIV.
The study is the first of a series of papers on transgender health published in The Lancet medical journal.
Support transgender rights, transgender health follows
To help address some of the issues affecting transgender rights, the authors of the study recommended the revision of the World Health Organization’s diagnostic manual by removing the diagnoses for transgender people from “mental and behavioral disorders” to “conditions related to sexual health.”
The current mental health diagnoses, the researchers said, reinforces the stigma attached to transgender people and this removal would be “truly historic.”
Their other recommendations include having health care for transgender people, including access to feminising and masculinising hormones, be funded on the same basis as other health care.
Doctors, the study noted, should be trained to understand the health needs of transgender people.
More importantly, the researchers called on the inclusion of transgender people in all anti-discrimination laws, and that schools should be more inclusive of gender diversity.
“In the past 15 years, there has been a dramatic shift from viewing transgender people as having a disorder, towards a better understanding of gender diversity, but much more needs to be done,” said study co-author Dr Sari Reisner, Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the USA.
“Passing protective laws and policies that guarantee gender recognition is essential to the health and well-being of transgender people” said Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator, and Director of the Bureau for Policy.