Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals are faced with ongoing health care concerns besides the usual issues that affect most men and women. Transgender persons fall into a category of gender-variant behaviors that vary from culturally evolved gender roles. The term “gender identity” refers to an individual's behaviors not matching one's assigned sex. “Transgendered individuals” does imply a specific form of sexual orientation. Transgendered individuals may feel uncomfortable with their assigned sex, often describing a false or incomplete satisfaction with themselves. This feeling may lead the individual to sexually transform themselves through qualified medical and surgical practices. These individuals need the appropriate health care resources to live fulfilling lives outside of cultural discrimination.
According to the Gay Lesbian Medical Association (GMLA), healthcare providers have found that some of the common concerns for transgender persons, include easily accessible health care, reluctance to reveal their complete health history, hormonal therapy, cardiovascular health, cancer, HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and safe sex practices, substance abuse, anxiety and depression, injectable silicone and other related surgical procedures, and dietary or fitness issues. Many transgender persons complain about the lack of equal-opportunity healthcare providers, often citing experiences of bias against LGBT patients or a lack of knowledge or experience to address their healthcare issues. Additionally, some healthcare insurance providers do not cover transgender persons, which leads to avoiding healthcare establishments altogether. This innate fear can trigger a reluctance to unveil their medical history to a provider willing to work with them. Patients should feel comfortable enough with their healthcare provider to seek the appropriate guidance in their efforts to remain healthy.
Transgender individuals often need hormone replacement or regulatory therapy to maintain their gender identity to satisfactory levels. Hormone therapy can produce desirable feminine or masculine characteristics; however, unregulated injections can cause serious health problems. For instance, too much estrogen can increase cardiovascular and circulation problems, often resulting in blood clotting, high blood pressure, water retention, and elevated blood sugar levels. Anti-androgens can produce symptoms of dehydration, low electrolytes, and low blood pressure. If a healthcare provider does not willingly work with transsexual persons, then he or she may seek to bypass the health care system altogether by purchasing these substances indirectly. Individuals should obtain regular check-ups to ensure that ordinary healthcare problems do not develop, especially cancer of the reproductive organs as is frequently discovered in many transgendered individuals.
Transsexual persons should still exercise precaution while engaging in sexual activity. Unsafe sex can result in higher risks for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV. Societal discrimination and rejection can afflict the mental health of transsexual persons and may induce anxiety and depression.
Transsexual individuals should exercise regularly, especially before a sex reassignment surgical procedure, which will reduce the overall risk and promote faster recovery within the individual. It's imperative that transgendered individuals receive the appropriate advice across the healthcare spectrum. Inquiring with a local advocacy and equality group is a good first step.
Follow these links for a comprehensive list of resources for transgendered individuals:
- Transgender Health FAQ: Brown University provides educated responses to frequently asked questions (FAQ) regarding transsexual individuals and discrimination-free, health care options.
- Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center: A prominent health care association dedicated to increasing comprehensive, effective, and affirming health care services for gender-variant individuals within the Los Angeles community.
- World Professional Association for Transgender Health: An advocacy and equality association dedicated to providing transgender health resources for those afflicted with gender dysphoria.
- Transgender Health Resources: The American Medical Student Association introduces a series of health care resources specific to transgendered individuals, including information on inclusive office practices, health disparities, primary care, hormone therapy, mental health, surgical care, and other miscellaneous resources.
- Fenway Health: Transgender Resources: Fenway Health Care Center provides information and resources that connects transgendered individuals to the appropriate assistance for their health care needs.
- Transgender Health and the Law (PDF): A document that helps individuals identify and fight health care discrimination among the transsexual community.
- Recommendations for Transgender Health Care: An article focusing on specific issues within the transgendered community, specifically with an emphasis on health care, insurance, and receiving benefits associated with the transgendered individual.
- WEBTREATS: Transgender Health: A comprehensive list of organizations, coalitions, and associations with an emphasis on transgender health.
- Consensus Statement on Management of Intersex Disorders (PDF): A professional journal entry that provides information regarding the management of disorders within transgendered individuals.
- Endocrine Treatment of Transsexual Persons (PDF): An extensive document for medical professionals to administer the proper endocrine treatment of transsexual persons.
- Gender Education and Advocacy: A gender-specific education and advocacy group dedicated to improving programs focused on the needs, issues, and concerns of gender variant people.
- Gender Identity Research and Education Society: The Gender Identity Research and Education Society provides information for transgender persons, their families, and professionals who care for them.
- The International Foundation for Gender Education: The International Foundation for Gender Education provides news and related information regarding transgender persons and their gender role identity.
- Transsexual Basics: The LGBT Community Center provides basic information, including the proper definition of a transgender individual, glossary of terms related to the transgender community, and a video to provide more coherent information for the individuals themselves.
- The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE): The NCTE is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing the necessary equality of transgender people.
- Renaissance Education Association: The Renaissance Education Association is a non-profit, non-political organization designed to educate and support transgender persons conflicted with interpersonal issues regarding their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Guidelines for Transgender Care: The Guidelines for Transgender Care has an in-house staff, including contracted specialists who oversee each patient in assisting with research and practical development of the sponsored transgender programs.
- Transgender Health Action Coalition: This transgender-focused coalition provides the necessary support for those seeking the aid of professional counselors.
- Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center: The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center provides a wide array of resources, including free HIV testing, medications, housing, food, clothing and support for the homeless.
- Howard Brown Health Center for Transgender Individuals: The Howard Brown Health Center, one of the nation's largest transgender advocacy groups, serves over 36,000 adults annually with an annual budget exceeding eighteen million dollars.
- The Empire State Pride Agenda: A statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights and advocacy organization for all New York residents.
- Callen-Lorde Community Health Center: Callen-Lorde Community provides quality health care for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities within the state of New York.
- Enhancing Transgender Health Care (PDF): An abstract article addressing ways to enhance overall transgender health care, including related health care issues, health care accessibility, inter-sexed issues, and various suggestions for improving the health of transgender individuals.
- National Center for Transgender Equality: A lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization dedicated to advancing the equality of transgender people through advocacy, collaboration and improvement.
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