Lack of Providers Top Barriers to Rural Trans Care – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

You can LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Lack of Providers Top Barriers to Rural Trans Care

LGBT Health published a study of rural transgender and gender diverse folks in the northeastern U.S., which found that those aged 25-39 had better odds of accessing gender-affirming primary care than did those who were 18-24. They also found that those identifying as a transgender man or transgender woman were more likely to access this care than were people who identified as gender diverse. The top-cited barrier to care was a lack of gender-affirming clinicians, which was cited by about two in three participants, with a lack of clinical skill among providers and difficulty getting an appointment also noted as top barriers. The results shed light on the myriad barriers that need to be overcome to improve gender-affirming care access in rural areas. 

Vietnam Makes Big Shift on LGBT Health

The Guardian reported that Vietnam’s Ministry of Health announced that being LGBT should no longer be considered an “illness” that can be treated, and that providers should treat LGBT people respectfully and provide care in a non-discriminatory manner. Instead, mental health care should be provided only when support is desired and by a provider with appropriate knowledge of LGBT identities, they said. The decision follows years of advocacy and is encouraging activists to pursue other steps for LGBT equality, such as legalizing same-sex marriage. 

Thousands of Trans Floridians without Care

HRC explained how a Medicaid rule change in Florida will take away gender-affirming care for the estimated 9,000 low-income transgender Floridians who rely on Medicaid for coverage. The decision was made by the state government after what HRC called a “biased” review of the evidence, which they say widely supports the idea that gender-affirming care is medically necessary and saves lives. A letter from experts to the office that oversees the state’s Medicaid program said that the report they issued “provides no scientific support for Florida’s proposed action” and instead twisted and mischaracterized scientific evidence. 

Anti-trans Arkansas Law Remains Blocked

Meanwhile, Politico reported that an appeals court in Arkansas blocked what was the first law in the country that completed banned transgender minors from receiving gender-affirming care in the state. The appeals court upheld the temporary block on the law placed by a lower court judge, saying that because the law limited treatment based on the sex of the patient, it violated federal law on discrimination in healthcare. The law will now remain on pause, and access to gender-affirming care will continue, while a full case proceeds in which the law’s legality is challenged. Civil rights groups and medical associations alike have slammed the law as discriminatory and against the best interests of children and youth. 

Racial Disparities and Monkeypox

Kaiser Health News explored disparities facing Latinx and Black individuals with respect to Monkeypox. They included new findings that Latinx individuals make up 33% of Monkeypox cases and Black individuals make up 28% of cases – a combined total of 61% of all cases, despite those communities only comprising about 33% of the U.S> population. The trend is also present in state data; for example, in Louisiana, Black individuals have accounted for more than double the cases compared to White individuals. LGBT organizations say more government outreach is needed for LGBT people of color to understand the outbreak and be provided with vaccines. 

Campaign Brings Attention to Mental Health 

Fierce Pharma reported on a new campaign called “Depression Looks Like Me,” which is seeking to normalize discussions on mental health in LGBT communities by highlighting the stories and experiences of LGBT people with depression and other mental health challenges. Folks featured in the campaign explain how anti-LGBT stigma excerbates mental health issues in the community and also can make it harder to find care. The initiative, which was launched by Johnson & Johnson, also includes resources like provider directories, hotlines, advocacy groups, and guides. 

Back to School Special, Plus Convos with Researchers – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

You can LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

LGBT Students Face Challenges Back at School

USA Today reported on LGBT students heading back to school amid a growing number of state laws and policies targeting their identities. Such policies have mostly been pursuing transgender youth, including laws to block their access to restrooms, sports teams, and medical care, although some laws – like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill – have broader implications. Legal challenges to such laws are offering hope but also complication; for instance, a Utah court blocked a ban on transgender students participating in sports aligned to their gender identity, but trans students there now face case-by-case decisions on whether or not they can participate.  

Gender Diverse Youth in Appalachian Region

The Hill reported on a new study finding that more than 7% of youth in rural Appalachia identify as gender diverse (or something other than cisgender). That is much higher than previous estimates, which were based on youth identifying as “transgender,” a more limited term. In fact, more of the gender diverse youth in the study held a non-binary identity rather than a binary one (e.g., transgender boy or girl). The study supports the need for more community- and school-based resources in a region in which transportation, socioeconomics, and culture could all be barriers.  

Telehealth and More Needed for Gender-affirming Care

Scientific American shared a report on one way to provide resources such as those in Appalachia with limited services locally: telemedicine. An organization in a rural region of Massachusetts was able to provide gender-affirming care to 1,000 patients in its first year, largely through telemedicine, by which it was able to reach transgender people throughout New England. They also note the importance of well-resourced providers, like major hospitals, considering connecting patients to legal services to help transgender people navigate discriminatory laws as well as travel services for those who need to leave the state to access care. 

Online and App-based Resources for Youth

If you are looking for remote services for LGBT youth, fans of the Roundup might recall our previous coverage of Q Chat Space, an initiative of Centerlink’s LGBT YouthLink program and partner organizations that provides LGBT youth with online discussion groups. YouthLink also partnered with Hopelab and the It Gets Better Project to launch imi, an app that helps youth explore their identities and promotes good mental health, this past Pride Month. You can learn more from our interview with YouthLink’s director, Deborah Levine, here

Engaging Youth in Advocacy

The Los Angeles Blade reported on how to help LGBT youth deal with the politicization of their identities – including by supporting them to engage in advocacy efforts. The article says that while advocacy can provide a sense of meaning, youth should work with a trusted adult, keep their own well-being front and center, and partner with experienced organizations that will be able to provide them with needed support.The article stresses that youth who plan to engage in advocacy in their schools, communities, and beyond need access to strong mental health services to be able to work through how they feel and address any issues they encounter. 

Minor Consent Laws for Sexual Health Vary

JAMA published a study finding that all states allowed at least some minors to independently consent to having HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, though in some, there was a minimum age between 12 and 14. However, only 33 states allowed minors to consent to STI prevention services on their own, and 35 did the same for HIV prevention. About half the states had confidentiality protections in place for a variety of specific testing and services, allowing youth to access such services without parents being notified. The authors say that protective laws are good for both minors and their providers, but that limited information and knowledge about rights likely prevents many youth from accessing what they need. 

Generational Differences in LGB Health – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

You can LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Generational Differences in LGB Health

LGBT Health published a study looking at three generational groups of sexual minority adults. It found that the youngest group was physically healthier than the older groups, which was more or less expected given how physical health changes as we age, but that they also had worse mental health. The latter finding is concerning given how mental health issues earlier in life can have compounded effects as people age. The study also found no differences between the age groups in terms of substance use or positive well-being. 

LGBT Concerns with Advance Care Planning

JAMA published a study exploring why LGBT people might be less likely to conduct advance care planning, which can provide instructions in case they are incapacitated or need end-of-life care. LGBT people were more likely than non-LGBT people to say that they did not conduct such planning because of experiences with healthcare discrimination, or because they simply did not see a need. Qualitative results also showed concerns with their identity being disclosed to others and with their instructions not being followed by the appropriate parties. 

1.7 Million at Highest Risk for Monkeypox

CNBC reported that 1.7 million sexual minority men in the U.S. are in the group considered by the CDC to be at highest risk for Monkeypox. The government has so far delivered 600,000 vaccine doses – enough to vaccinate 300,000 people, or about one in six of those considered to be at highest risk. The 1.7 million people in the highest risk group are sexual minority men who are living with HIV or who are using PrEP for HIV prevention; while neither of these factors is known to raise risk for monkeypox, it simply makes it statistically more likely that someone will be exposed to monkeypox. The outbreak was recently declared a public health emergency. 

Limits of Protective Laws

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a study which did not find that LGBT people in states with more protective laws faced less discrimination or victimization. In fact, people who considered themselves to be gender expansive faced more discrimination and victimization in places with protective laws; the same was true about sexual minorities with respect to discrimination. The study shows that protective laws are just one step in reducing discrimination and victimization, and that more action is needed even in more favorable states. The research was conducted using data from the PRIDE Study

Telemedicine Can Advance LGBT Health

HealthTech explored how telemedicine is helping to expand care for LGBT individuals, especially those who live in areas without providers knowledgeable about LGBT health. The issue is particularly important for transgender individuals, as most providers do not receive significant training in gender-affirming care, and it can be especially difficult to access outside of major urban areas. The article also provides suggestions for making telehealth services more LGBT inclusive, including ensuring that correct names and pronouns are noted and addressing any privacy concerns.

Study Refutes “Contagion” Theory

NBC News reported on new research finding that transgender and gender diverse youth are not identifying as such merely from “social contagion” – or being exposed to more youth who identify as such as society becomes somewhat more accepting. The study refutes a 2018 one that suggested adolescents assigned female at birth, in particular, were merely succumbing to peer pressure – a study that did not even include transgender or gender diverse youth themselves, but merely their parents. MIT Technology Review also weighed in to cover the harm done by the original study. 

Highlight on Insurance Issues – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

You can LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Service Access Wanting for LGB Folks on Medicaid 

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) published a report on the experiences of the 1.2 million LGBT individuals who receive Medicaid. Among the many findings were that LGB individuals on Medicaid were about as likely as their heterosexual peers to use physical health services. However, the study found that LGB Medicaid recipients were less likely to get the mental health services that they needed – despite having higher rates of mental health issues. Similarly, LGB folks were more likely than heterosexual individuals to need services related to substanse use, but were less likely to access the services they needed. These findings highlight the importance of mental and behavioral service access, particularly as the LGB population has higher needs than the general population.

Hawaii Advances Bill for Trans Care Access

Honolulu Civil Beat reported that the state’s legislature has passed a bill that may improve access to gender-affirming care. While the state banned insurers from discriminating against services for trans patients a few years ago, insurers are still categorizing many critical services as being “cosmetic” despite plenty of evidence that the services improve health and save lives. The new bill would prohibit insurers from making blanket determinations that services often needed as part of gender-affirming care – such as hormone therapy, facial survey, and voice therapy or surgery – are “cosmetic” and thus not covered. It would also require more clarity for what was and was not covered and provide an appeals process.

N.C. Court Rules for Trans Patients

Meanwhile, Jurist reported that a federal judge in North Carolina ruled in favor of transgender state employees whose health insurance package did not include gender-affirming care. The judge found that the science strongly supported the medical necessity of gender-affirming care, whereas the competing “evidence” used to deny such care was questionable and mixed science with political aims, which was not legitimate for the court to consider. The judge thus found that the ban on this type of care by the state’s health insurance plan violated the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act.

What Parents and Caregivers of LGBT Kids Can Do

Healthline reviewed the research on the needs of LGBT youth and what parents can do to support their LGBT or questioning children. They highlighted a recent brief from the Trevor Project based on their annual survey of LGBT youth mental health, which found that only a minority of parents or caregivers educated themselves about LGBT issues or openly discussed LGBT issues with their children. The article also includes interviews with experts who gave tips such as approaching these issues openly (even if the parent still has doubts or concerns), researching these issues to reduce their anxiety about approaching them, and making sure they strive to understand their child’s identity and show respect for it, such as using appropriate pronouns.

VA Highlights Gay Stories

The Department of Veteran’s Affairs shared the story of a gay social worker who for years worked with veterans without anyone knowing his sexual orientation. When an 88-year-old veteran opened up about being gay himself – something he had never told anyone – the social worker felt compelled to open up, too. In the years since that encounter, issues for LGBT veterans have made progress, such as ending the discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy and limited progress on protecting transgender veterans. However, the social worker – who now trains others – says there are still many patients like his who are not always comfortable sharing their identity, and who can benefit greatly when they do.

LGBT Ukranians Face Challenges, Some Support

Devex reported on the situation facing LGBT Ukranians who have fled war in their country and are now residing in Poland – a country in which LGBT people face many barriers. Advocates say that LGBT refugees have unique needs, such as receiving housing and employment that will not discriminate against them, and medical services that are often stigmatized (especially for trans people). While local activists have been stepping up to help, some say that government actors have not been helpful in this country that has opposed LGBT rights. Poland is ranked last among EU nations on LGBT issues. 

PRIDE Study Launches Annual Survey – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

You can LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

PRIDE Study Launches Annual Questionnaire

The PRIDE Study launched its annual questionnaire for 2022, aiming to grow is database on all things LGBT health. The mission of the PRIDE Study is to help us better understand LGBT health by recruiting folks to take an annual survey about their well-being and making that data set available (anonymously, of course) to researchers for further study. If you have not already joined the PRIDE Study, you can check your eligibility here to get started. If you are already a member, now is the time to check the 2022 survey off your bucket list. 

COVID and Mental Health

Speaking of the PRIDE Study, new research published by JMIR Public Health and Surveillance using PRIDE’s dataset found that between March and August 2020, greater exposure to COVID-19 news was associated with more symptoms of anxiety and greater odds of PTSD among LGBT adults. The study highlights the toll that the pandemic has taken on the mental health of LGBT (and other) populations, which could help inform how we deal with future public health emergencies. 

Major Findings from CDC on LGB Health

The CDC published a report using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, which found a number of health differences between LGB and other individuals. For example, sexual minority indiviudals were more likely to report smoking, heavy drinking, marijuana use, and other substance use when compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Additionally, sexual minority women in particular were more likely to have been diagnosed with conditions such as arthritis, cancer, and diabetes compared to heterosexual women. Bisexual women also had particular disparities compared to heterosexual peers that lesbian women did not, including ovulation or menstual problems and pelvic inflammatory disease, highlighting the need for more research that differentiates between subpopulations within the LGBT community. 

Texas Order Suspended (For Now)

Reuters reported that a judge in Texas has temporarily suspended an order from the state’s governor that its department of children and families investigate parents who support their children with medically-appropriate gender-affirming care. LGBT and civil rights organizations sued to block the state from enforcing the policy, which they said is counter to science backing such treatment and in violation of the rights of trans children and their parents. The Texas Supreme Court had already ruled against the governor’s order, but had not suspended investigations against all potential parties. 

Australian Campaign Targets Smoking

Gay Nation reported on a new anti-smoking campaign in Australia aimed at the LGBT community, which (must like in the US) faces tobacco use disparities when compared to non-LGBT peers. The project is the result of a collaboration that included LGBT people in focus groups speaking to their community and an organization trusted among LGBT folks, both of which they say is important to make sure the messaging resonated and was credible. The campaign points out the health and financial benefits of quitting, and provides folks with options (including apps, medication, and counseling) to succeed. 

Resources for Understanding Monkeypox

The Fenway Institute published resources on monkeypox, such as a fact sheet and infographics that explain its impact on LGBT populations; the recent global outbreak has especially impacted gay and bisexual men, though everyone is susceptible to the virus. There is also a webinar aimed at healthcare providers and members of the LGBT community. 

New “imi” App Provides Support to Youth – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

You can LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

New App Provides Support to LGBT Youth

The Roundup interviewed LGBT YouthLink’s director, Deborah Levine, on their new mental health app for youth called imi that was developed with Hopelab and It Gets Better Project. The app helps teens to explore their identities and develop or maintain good mental health and launched on June 1, just in time for Pride Month. The science-backed app was developed over a two-year period that included working extensively with youth to ensure it would meet their most pressing needs. It includes stories from other LGBT youth, activities, strategies for dealing with stress, and more. Deborah also talked about how this initiative builds off of LGBT YouthLink’s work on Q Chat Space, a platform that provides online discussion groups for LGBT teens. You can learn more about LGBT YouthLink here and be sure to check out our podcast for the full interview on this week’s episode. 

Guidance Issued on Monkeypox 

WHO published guidance aimed at sexual minority men with respect to the new outbreak of monkeypox, which has been reported in multiple countries with a disproportionate number of cases among sexual minority men. WHO notes that while everyone should be on alert with respect to the outbreak, the higher number of cases among bisexual and gay men – and the way that the virus spreads through close contact – could put LGBT communities at higher risk. They encouraged those working in public health to engage in outreach to inform LGBT communities on what they need to know.

Debate Over Communicating New Outbreak

Meanwhile, The Atlantic published an op-ed exploring the challenges of balancing the need to alert sexual minority men to the increased risk within their community – especially with Pride Month upon us – while not wanting to have monkeypox depicted as a “gay disease.” The article reflects on the extreme stigma connected to HIV that resulted in many people not getting tested at all, but also the risk of not informing the community. The author proposes direct outreach from public health personnel to gay and bisexual men via social media and other virtual platforms, particularly for those whose local health provider may not be as up-to-date on the risk. 

Making Healthcare Orgs More Inclusive 

The National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center at the Fenway Institute published a guide for how healthcare institutions can implement LGBT-affirming organizational and human resources policies, which they say could help to improve the experience of LGBT patients seeking care. These steps include ensuring that recruitment and advancement opportunities are inclusive of LGBT providers and employees, creating an LGBT-inclusive physical environment (e.g., signaling it is a safe space and having gender neutral restrooms available), and developing partnerships with LGBT organizations and individuals. The Education Center also published an update to its previous report on implementing LGBT-inclusive data collection policies in healthcare settings. 

LGBT Views on Health Insurance

Forbes reported on a new survey finding that one in eight LGBT individuals has experienced discrimination by their health insurer, with reports being much higher among younger age groups than older LGBT adults. Additionally, a majority of participants did not know if their insurance covered a variety of services disproportionately sought by LGBT individuals. Still, 32% of participants felt that health insurance was improving for LGBT people, compared to only 13% who felt that it was getting worse. The sample in the 520 person survey appeared to be better insured and better off financially than the average LGBT American, meaning that population-wide numbers could be more concerning.

Videos Highlight Centers’ Role in Mental Health – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

You can LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Mental Health Programming Has Lasting Impact

Centerlink published a video series that highlights the twelve year history of the Johnson Family Foundation Mental Health Initiative and the work that LGBT centers are doing to advance mental health. The initiative has supported over 60 such centers in providing model mental health programming to their local LGBT community, in some cases going on to be models of such services themselves. Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, Johnson Family Foundation Trustee and Licensed Therapist, noted the impact beyond the mental health of any one member of the community, saying that the grants “have empowered a generation of LGBTQ+ activists to see their personal well-being as the foundation upon which they can go out and heal our world.” The video was produced in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month. 

Sexual Minority Youth More Likely to Experience Homelessness

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that included youth in 22 states, and found that youth who were experiencing homelessness were more than three times as likely to be gay or lesbian as were youth not experiencing homelessness. This is especially troubling given that the study also found elevated rates of mental health and substance use issues among the youth who were dealing with the problem of homelessness. Youth experiencing homelessness were also more likely than their peers to be Black or Latinx, making the issue likely one of particular importance for LGBT Black and Latinx youth, who likely faced intersectional discrimination and challenges. Gender identity information was not available in the state-based data pool with which the study was conducted. 

An LGBT Provider’s Experience

The AMA also published an interview with general internist Riley Wagner Lipschitz about her journey to becoming comfortable identifying as a lesbian woman with her patients. Dr. Lipschitz discusses the homophobia she sometimes encountered during her medical training, and how that led her to create an LGBT student alliance. But it was after having twins with her wife – and getting questions from her patients, eager to know about her experiences with motherhood – that she felt she had to be more open with those to whom she provides care. Dr. Lipschitz  recommends to young healthcare professionals that they find their own line of where they are most comfortable, and also that they seek to work in spaces that they find more open to LGBT providers, if possible. 

Alabama School Offers Hope

The New York Times reported on the opening of the new Magic City Acceptance Academy in Homewood, Alabama, which is a public charter school aiming to be an inclusive place for 240 students in grades 6-12. Some non-LGBT students decided to enroll to escape other problems of bias, like racism or bullying at their prior school, or just because they wanted to learn in a more inclusive place. The LGBT-inclusive school stands at odds with recent policies in the state that include making it a felony to provide gender-affirming care to someone under the age of 19, and pressuring teachers to not keep the privacy of students who say they might be nonbinary or transgender; some worry that the new laws could make the school an even greater political target, given the resistance it has faced so far.

Science Backs Access to Gender-affirming Care

Relatedly, Scientific American analyzed the available research on gender-affirming care for youth, and found that state laws seeking to block such care for minors was not based in science. They interviewed experts, surveyed guidelines from numerous medical associations, and reviewed scientific literature, and all supported the idea that age-appropriate care including affirmative therapy and support for younger children and eventually puberty blockers and hormones at the appropriate age. They also point to research showing that few people who identified as transgender at some point later regret identifying as such or change their identity to their sex assigned at birth, and that many who did later decide not to live as transgender did so because of the stigma and discrimination they faced – not because their understanding of their gender identity shifted. 

Greece Limits Conversion Therapy

NBC News reported that Greece has become the latest country to ban so-called “conversion therapy” against LGBT minors. In addition, the service can no longer be advertised, and adults who want this type of service will have to explicitly consent to it before it occurs. The rules represent a significant crack-down on a service that has been discredited and that research has found causes psychological harm on those who receive it, as sexual orientation and gender identity cannot be changed through therapy. The change is part of a national strategy that Greece is implementing to improve LGBT rights; the country is also planning to ban surgery on young children who are identified as intersex, which advocates say is unnecesary and harmful.

Youth Mental Health Concerns Rise – #LGBTWellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

You can LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Youth Mental Health Concerns Rising

The Trevor Project published its annual report on LGBT youth mental health, based on a survey of almost 34,000 youth aged 13 to 24. Among the many findings: nearly half (45%) of LGBT youth had “seriously contemplated” suicide within the past year, and 60% of LGBT youth who wanted mental health care in the past year had been unable to access it. Additionally, 73% of LGBT youth reported symptoms of anxiety and 58% reported symptoms of depression; these issues were even higher for gender minority youth than they were for cisgender sexual minority youth. Anxiety, depression, and contemplating suicide had all trended up slightly from 2020 to 2022, and more than 90% of gender minority youth expressed concern over state and local laws limiting gender-affirming care and access to gender-based facilities.

If you or an LGBT youth you know needs help, contact the Trevor Project.

Few Transgender Children “Retransition”

Pediatrics published a study of over three hundred transgender children, and found that only 7.3% “retransitioned” after initially deciding to live as transgender; some of these youth ended up identifying as nonbinary, and only a few percent retransitioned to their sex assigned at birth. The study concludes that while understanding retransitioning is important for providers, families, and transgender youth themselves, that the occurance is relatively rare. The New York Times also reported on the study and noted its importance at a time in which many states are moving to limit gender-affirming care for transgender youth. 

States Rally Against Blood Ban

WBUR reported that physicians are rallying the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lift the rule that sexual minority men must wait 90 days from their most recent sexual encounter before being able to donate blood, a rule that is itself a relaxed version of the lifetime ban that was in place before. WBUR interviewed the North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services, whose letter to the FDA has been joined by 10 other states. The initial lifetime ban came about in the earlier days of the HIV crisis, but critics call it discriminatory, as it only applies to sexual minority men. (You can hear the full interview by clicking on the red “play” button at the top of the news story.)

Evaluating Training for Med Students & Residents

Transgender Health published a study reviewing evidence of LGBT health education for medical students and residents, and found overall high levels of student satisfaction with these topics, although more time especially on transgender health was needed. The study also found that more interactive experiences were needed to show attitude changes among the future physicians. The researchers also found a lack of information on the actual outcome on LGBT health resulting from their providers having (or not having) training, which could be key to improving this education and pressing for more time dedicated to the subject in med school.

Trans Youth with Autism Face Challenges

Prism Reports shared some of the unique challenges facing autistic transgender youth. Among them was included the ableist view that neurodivergent youth have decreased understanding of their own identity and ability to determine their own course of care. Transgender people who are clinically diagnosed with autism can receive social & medical benefits, however, denial of agency by some providers and the general public can be especially difficult for folx who are also transgender. The issue is of growing importance as transgender people are more likely to be neurodivergent compared to the general population, although research still does not give a clear reason as to why. 

20 States Now Mandate Fertility Coverage

GLAD celebrated the passage of a fertility bill in Maine that will require health insurers to cover various types of fertility services in the state, bringing the total number of states in which this type of care is required to only 20 nationwide. While not LGBT-specific, GLAD (an organization that advances LGBT rights) worked on passing the law given that LGBT couples are more likely than others to need this type of service. 

Ready for Mental Health Action Day – #LGBTWellness Roundup, Week of May 9, 2022

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

You can LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Mental Health Action Day is May 19

This coming Thursday, May 19th, will be the second annual Mental Health Action Day. CenterLink is proud to partner in this initiative, which focuses on moving from awareness to action, given the serious mental health disparities that face LGBT communities (many of which have been worsened by a flurry of anti-LGBT and especially anti-transgender laws sweeping many states). Check out LGBT research and resources if you need support yourself or want to help spread the word on making for a better quality, more inclusive, and more affordable mental healthcare system. 

Honoring our LGBT Elders

Meanwhile, May 16th is recognized as National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day, an event started in 2016 as a way to honor the contributions that LGBT older adults have made to today’s LGBT communities. The event also draws attention to issues facing LGBT older adults, such as health, in which this population faces compounded disparities from decades of inequitable access to healthcare as well as discrimination. Resources include toolkits for various types of entities, including ways that healthcare settings can recognize the occasion and improve LGBT older adult health, and folks are encouraged to share messages and photos on social media with the hashtag #LGBTEldersDay.

Hidden Costs of Conversion Therapy

JAMA Pediatrics published a study that reviewed available scientific literature and found that, across various studies, conversion therapy for LGBT individuals was associated with higher rates of depression, substance use, and attempted suicide. In addition, they estimated that experiencing so-called conversion therapy – in which someone uses discredited means to try to change the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of another person – was assocaited with over $97,000 in financial loses, including the money spent on the “therapy” itself but also the costs of dealing with the fallout, as well as lost productivity over the lifecourse. On the other hand, affirmative therapy – in which a person’s LGBT identity is supported and the individual receives evidence-based care – was associated with cost savings compared with no intervention, as well as increased “quality-adjusted life years” and other benefits. 

Leaked Roe DRAFT Decision Raises LGBT Health Concerns

Gay City News published an analysis of concerns raised by LGBT advocates of a potential rollback in LGBT rights following a leaked, draft Supreme Court decision on reproductive rights. Not only does the leaked decision represent a seeming willingness to revoke previously-established constitutional rights – a frightening prospect in general for LGBT people – but it also specifically seems to erode the idea of a general right to freedom and privacy that have been key to decriminalizing same-sex sexual relations and establishing marriage equality. Abortion access is itself, of course, an LGBT health issue, with research finding that bisexual women were more likely than heterosexual women to need access to abortion services and that many gender minority people who became pregnant considered ending a pregnancy without medical support due to legal restrictions and stigma. It is important to remember, that the documents leaked are only drafts and do not represent and change in legislation or current access to care. Clinics should continue to provide life-saving reproductive healthcare and the community should continue to access it.

ICYMI: Exclusive “All of Us” Interview

Have you had a feeling this week that you were forgetting something? “Fear of missing out” creeping in? Maybe you missed our big interview last week with Dr. Anthony Pho, who is part of the team making the All of Us research program queerer and more fabulous. You can learn all about this important initiative, and how Centerlink and the Stanford University School of Medicine are helping to ensure it’s the most inclusive federal research program ever (and fill in lots of knowledge gaps on LGBT health along the way). Check out our summary here and, better yet, head to our podcast channel to hear the three-part interview yourself. 

Even More Happening on the Podcast

And speaking of our podcast, two weeks ago, we shared a study about promoting tobacco cessation among sexual minority women. This week, one of the study’s authors, Karen Caldwell, called into the podcast with some additional information on how they were able to use GPS technology to reach queer women who had been to specific locations where they wanted to prioritize outreach. If your work is featured here in the blog, or you are just a fan with thoughts to share or your own research to promote, you can send in your comments too using the “message” feature on our channel

How “All of Us” Can Improve LGBTQ Health – Special #LGBTWellness Podcast

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.

You can LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

This week’s roundup is all about the All of Us Research Program, a federal program aiming to gather health information on 1 million Americans so that we can better understand public health. The best part? All of Us has been working with Stanford University School of Medicine as their LGBTQ community partner to make sure we are counted. We sat down with Dr. Anthony Pho, a postdoctoral scholar with the PRIDE study and PRIDEnet at Stanford, to spill all the tea. You can listen to the full three-part interview on our podcast channel, or keep reading for the highlights. 

Meet Anthony

Our very special guest, Dr. Anthony Pho, is a “queer researcher doing queer research,” and we are here for it. Anthony went to nursing school and works exclusively with LGBTQ patients. “I was very passionate about advocating for my patients through LGBTQ research,” given the limited information we still have on LGBTQ health, Anthony says. He is currently doing a post-doc with PRIDE Study and PRIDEnet, which is how he came to be involved with All of Us. Anthony chatted with us about all things LGBTQ health, but one particular topic of interest was how genomics (or the study of genes) was being used as part of All of Us to match what we know about environmental and genetic factors for health. 

Recipe for Fabulousness 

“If genes are the individual recipes or instructions,” Anthony explains, then genomics are “all of these fabulous recipes that go into the genome cookbook and make you, you.” Understanding genomics helps us to understand and detect disease. “If we can detect things early enough, then we can maximize a plan to improve a person’s health and possibly even cure disease.” This also fits into the idea of “precision medicine,” which means tailoring care as much as possible to the individual, which we can do if we understand their genome and what it means for their health. “Environmental factors such as what we eat, the air we breathe, what medicines we take all can influence our gene expression, and so it’s important to combine both types of information.”

We’re Here, We’re Queer…

Why is it important for LGBTQ people to participate in this type of research? Well, because for so long, we have not been included (or at least not identified) in public health research, meaning we have huge gaps in what we know about LGBTQ health – and how to improve it. “The ability to actually show up in health research studies” is part of health equity, Anthony says, because it begins the process of addressing disparities. “For the first time, the federal government is really, at an incredible scale, recognizing that LGBTQ people have been underrepresented in biomedical research.” That’s why they have made inclusion of LGBTQ people a priority in this initiative.

So, Where Is This Going? 

Two CenterLink member centers, who are among the five working with All of Us to increase LGBTQ engagement, sent representatives to participate in the conversation. Evan Killingsworth from LGBT Detroit asked what some of the real-world applications of All of Us (and specifically its genomics component) might be for LGBTQ folks. Anthony provided examples such as using this data to inform guidelines for hormone therapy for transgender patients with more information on genetic risk for cancer, allowing clinicians to offer more and safer options to trans people seeking hormones and recommending screenings to assess potential cancer risks. 

What About the Haters? 

Kim Fountain from Center on Halsted asked if genetic testing could ever be used against LGBTQ people) and everyone else if protections healthcare access protections under the Affordable Care Act ever go away. Anthony says that while it’s not unreasonable to be concerned about the future, “I turn that concern into activism.” We can’t be forced to pick between advancing science and protecting our rights, so rather than hiding, we need to rise up and demand from our legislators that protections for those with prior medical conditions are here to stay. 

Let’s Talk Numbers

“We’re doing phenomenal” on LGBTQ recruitment to date, according to Anthony. He attributes part of that success to the way in which All of Us allows people to identify their sexual orientation and gender identity in a highly inclusive and engaging way. To date, over 42,000 LGBTQ individuals have enrolled in the program, the largest for any national research study. LGBTQ folks comprise about 13% of the overall All of Us participants (above our share of the population) and 9% of those doing the whole genome sequencing component. 

Want to Get Involved?

Anyone can sign up to be part of the initiative, share some info about their health, and contribute to what we know about LGBTQ health inequities (and how to end them). “We actually created a specific landing page for LGBTQ people” based on listening sessions with LGBT prospective participants, Anthony explains. “On that page you’re going to find more information that’s relevant specifically to our communities.” His final advice? “Read more, enroll, educate yourself, and advocate for this wonderful research program.” 

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