After news that the US Supreme Court will likely strike down Roe v. Wade, many people have been left with questions about how this will impact them. This decision may be especially concerning for trans and nonbinary people, who already face challenges in accessing health care, and in particular, reproductive health care.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade will likely have disproportionate effects for transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people. Even without restricting access to abortion-related health care, transgender people already face many obstacles to accessing health care. These obstacles may range from discrimination and refusal to treat trans patients, to lack of clinical understanding of trans identities among service providers. Below are some specific ways that restricting reproductive healthcare access will impact transgender and nonbinary communities:
Cisgender women are not the only people who can become pregnant and need access to reproductive care, including abortions. Transmasculine, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people with uteruses may also be at risk for unintended pregancy, as well as sexually transmitted infections. For those who do not intend to get pregnant, restricted access to abortions may increase stress and anxiety around reproductive health.
Marginalization and abuse increase health risks for transgender people. Transgender and gender nonconforming youth are particularly at risk for sexual abuse, exploitation, and trafficking. Many are forced to engage in unprotected sex and are at hightened risk of pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and other physical harm. Reproductive health clinics are places where many trans people feel more comfortable going, as well as can receive care at low or no costs.
Due to economic inequities and other factors, 19% of transgender people have engaged in commercial sex work at some point in their lives. For individuals engaging in more frequent sexual activity, there is an increased risk of pregnancy, as well as STIs. As with trans youth, reproductive health clinics may provide a judgment-free, lower-cost environment for receiving care.
When any individual is restricted from accessing abortion services, they will likely experience even more disparate health outcomes.
Transgender people are often reluctant to seek sexual and reproductive health care. Many trans individuals delay seeking preventative care because of concerns about discrimination or disrespect. The 2015 US Transgender Survey found that 33% of trans respondents had at least one negative experience in a health care setting, and 23% of respondents delayed seeking health care out of fear of discrimination. This means that it may be more difficult to detect STIs, unwanted pregnancies, and other health issues early on.
Many providers still turn transgender patients away. The 2015 US Transgender Survey found that as many as 19% of providers turned away transgender patients. Transgender and nonbinary patients often face discrimination in health care settings. With legal challenges to transgender health care, it is even more likely that health care providers refuse to treat trans patients, particularly in states where gender affirming health care has been restricted.
Health clinics that offer reproductive care often also provide gender affirming care, such as Planned Parenthood. If clinics like Planned Parenthood are impacted by the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many trans patients may lose access to their primary health care, which also includes gender affirming care. However, there are other options for receiving gender affirming care. In the second section of this post, we’ll cover telemedicine options for accessing hormones and other gender affirming care.
Reading this information may feel overwhelming. Current challenges to reproductive care access and gender affirming care can contribute to a sense of hopelessness among trans and nonbinary communities. Although we may not be able to change decisions happening about reproductive and trans health care on a national level, we can take smaller steps in our lives to prepare to support ourselves and our communities, while also doing what we can to maintain our mental health and wellbeing.
Take care of your basic needs and mental health first. It can feel overwhelming to prepare for challenges related to changes to Roe v. Wade, but when we take care of our bodies and minds, we are better able to cope with current events.
- You may find it helpful to unplug from reading news and social media and take a break from consuming information.
- Talking with others, like a trusted friend, therapist, or faith leader can be important for processing emotions around these difficult events.
- Making sure that you’re staying hydrated and eating foods that are nourishing and fulfilling are important for maintaining general wellbeing.
- Moving our bodies, even just through walking or stretching, is a great way to release tension and is shown to improve mood and mental health.
Be informed about how overturning Roe v. Wade would impact your local area. Check out this interactive map, that includes information about how each US state might respond to restricted abortion access.
Consider talking with your doctor about birth control. If you don’t already use birth control and consider yourself at risk of becoming pregnant, it may be helpful to discuss contraceptives with your provider. Using condoms has the added benefit of preventing STIs, but they may not be as effective at preventing pregnancy alone. Many health care providers recommend using both condoms and another form of birth control to prevent both pregnancy and STIs.
Get emergency contraceptives before you need them. If you live in an area where abortion access might be restricted and are concerned about you or a partner becoming pregnant, consider familiarizing yourself with emergency contraception options available to you, and purchasing some just in case you need it.
Consider alternative options for accessing gender affirming hormones. While organizations like Planned Parenthood are under attack, many trans and nonbinary people may worry what will happen if they can no longer receive their gender affirming hormones. This is a good time to explore alternatives, like Plume or FOLX. These two services offer gender affirming health care using telemedicine to improve ease of access.
Connect with your community to share resources and find trans-informed providers in your area. Joining online community groups for queer and trans communities in your local area can be a great way to connect with others and share resources.