As it is, transgender and nonbinary youths have a higher incidence of a range of health conditions. Paradoxically, they may also face limited access to health care.
This is according to a systematic review – “Experiences and Perspectives of Transgender Youths in Accessing Health Care” by Lauren S. H. Chong, Jasmijn Kerklaan, Simon Clarke, et al – that appeared in JAMA Pediatrics.
In this review, the researchers went through 90 studies involving 884 participants aged 9 to 24 years across 17 countries were included. They then identified six themes regarding the experiences and needs of transgender youths: experiencing pervasive stigma and discrimination in health care, feeling vulnerable and uncertain in decision-making, traversing risks to overcome systemic barriers to transitioning, internalizing intense fear of consequences, experiencing prejudice undermining help-seeking efforts, and experiencing strengthened gender identity and finding allies.
This review found that transgender youths contend with feelings of gender incongruence, fear, and vulnerability in accessing health care, which are compounded by legal, economic, and social barriers.
In turn, “this can lead to disengagement from care and resorting to high-risk and unsafe interventions.”
To deal with this, the researchers suggest “improving access to gender-affirming services with a cultural humility lens and addressing sociolegal stressors” as it “may promote engagement in care, minimize the use of unsafe interventions, and improve health outcomes in this population.”