The Unexpected Ways the Pandemic is Affecting Trans Folks
BY: AARON CAPENER
Quarantine. Shelter in place. State of emergency. These are the scary and unprecedented headlines that have been filling our newsfeeds and televisions for months now. Whether you’re an essential worker, small business owner, student or parent, this pandemic has affected everyone in one way or another. However, you might not have thought of the ways this pandemic is specifically affecting trans folks.
We Need Our Hormones People!
For starters, trans people who are medically transitioning may face additional challenges when it comes to seeing their endocrinologists or refilling their prescriptions. The healthcare system is overwhelmed and short-supplied at a time they are needed the most. In many hot spots, they are running out of beds, personal protection equipment, and are extremely short-staffed. While some people administer their hormone replacement therapy shots at home, many receive injections via clinics and physicians. Trans people who prefer this method are facing some serious choices regarding exposure. Do they choose to continue their regular schedule (if possible) and risk the hazards of COVID-19 exposure?
If these are issues you are currently facing, here are some resources that you might find useful:
Tips for Self Administering Your HRT Shot
Trans Needle Exchange - for folks in need of syringes and other shot supplies
Distance Makes The Heart... Sad?
Another factor to consider when thinking of ways the pandemic is affecting trans folks is the element of social distancing. Health professionals have recommended that we stay at home since early March. Not being able to socialize with friends or support groups can be especially detrimental to trans people. I myself didn’t grow up in a supportive household. My safe havens were friends’ houses, going to school, and actively participating in the GSA program. Without these places of refuge, I can’t imagine how much harder my high school years would have been.
If isolation is affecting you especially hard right now, connecting with other trans-masculine folks in the virtual world might help. If Facebook and Reddit groups just are cutting it, we highly recommend checking out the programming at the newly launched Intentional Man Project. They have free monthly programming for trans-masculine folks and also offer lots of talks and workshops through their paid membership program. For less than $9 per month, you can get access to bi-weekly virtual meetups, classes, workshops, and more.
Mental Health Matters
The Trevor Project has found that transgender and non-binary youth overall suffer from anxiety and depression at ten times the rate of cisgender peers. Within weeks of the pandemic outbreak in the US, the familiar symptoms of mental illness have increased universally for all people, in turn, escalating that number for LGBTQ+ individuals even more.
“Many have found solitude in staying home and working on themselves during this time. Why is it any different for trans people?”
Because not everyone has a safe, supportive place to go to at the end of the day.
In an article by Newsweek, Dr. Alexis Chávez, psychiatrist and medical director of The Trevor Project mentions that “for LGBTQ youth who aren't supported by their family, their area of support may be peers at school. Now that they don't have that, it's an extra layer of social isolation, because they don't have people supporting their identity. They could be around people who are misgendering them," Chávez told Newsweek. "In the worst-case scenario, youth who have families who are not accepting or explicitly hostile to their identity, they may now be experiencing that every day." Being intentionally misgendered for extended periods of time can severely impact people’s ability to stay positive.
If you are experiencing stress from an unsafe home environment and need someone to talk to, there are a number of hotlines that you might find useful. The Trevor Project provides support via free and confidential crisis intervention services across a variety of platforms:
- TrevorText - Free, confidential, secure texting with a trained Trevor counselor for LGBTQ youth in need of support. Text "START" to 678-678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7.
- TrevorChat - Free, confidential, secure instant messaging with live help for LGBTQ youth provided by trained volunteers. Visit TheTrevorProject.org/Help. Available 24/7.
- TrevorLifeline - Nationwide, 24/7 crisis and suicide prevention lifeline offering free and confidential counseling for LGBTQ youth. Call 1-866-488-7386.
We also recommend checking out Trans Lifeline or T Buddy - both of which offer emergency peer support to trans folks.
Be a Lighthouse
It’s imperative in times like these that we double-back and help those that are in need. Help doesn’t always mean sending extravagant gifts or financial gestures. This can mean messaging someone you know who is facing even more struggles than the average citizen. This pandemic is affecting trans folks in more ways than most realize and it’s time to reach out and be kind to those in need.