The current state of gender-affirming care
Let’s talk about the current state of healthcare for the trans community. While there have been many improvements in care for gender diverse folks in recent years, it’s no secret there are still alarming and unacceptable disparities when it comes to accessing gender-affirming care. The landmark 2015 US Transgender Survey, the largest survey of transgender people to date, found that 33% of our community who had seen a health care provider in the past year reported having at least one negative experience related to being transgender, and 23% of respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to because of fear of being mistreated as a transgender person (Grant et al., 2011).1
Even if we ignore discrimination, the even the bigger problem trans people face when trying to access healthcare is actually finding a provider who is knowledgable in gender-affirming care (Safer et al., 2016).2 This is what our community worries about. New research from trans and non-binary leaders just this year affirmed that accessing trans-related care, like hormone therapies and surgeries, is one of the top health concerns for the trans community (Karla et al., 2020).3
And this worry is well-founded – the medical system knows it isn’t educating enough doctors to care for trans folks. Surveys of medical schools and residency programs have found that few institutions provide longitudinal formal training on culturally competent medical care for transgender and gender diverse patients (Dubin, et al. 2018).4 While current research indicates that more and more medical providers want training in trans health, right now there’s just not enough doctors with adequate training to provide the gender-affirming care that our community needs.
And that gender-affirming care is literally life-saving. Every major medical association in the United States, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association has recognized the necessity of providing transition-related care to improve the physical and mental health of transgender people (Am. Med. Assn., 2019).5
Yet even for folks who find a gender-affirming provider, chances are there can still be barriers to care, like long wait-times for appointments, long drives to clinics, finding in-network labs, and the threat that a change in health insurance could lead to losing the doctor you worked so hard to find. Health insurance is another huge barrier to gender-affirming care, as transgender folks are less likely than our cisgender peers to have health insurance, and roughly a quarter of our community have had issues using insurance due to our gender identity or expression (James et al., 2016).6
With all of these obstacles, we are in desperate need of innovative solutions that bring gender-affirming care to people who need it most. That’s where Plume comes in.
An innovative solution to healthcare barriers
There’s no argument that the way health care is delivered is changing. And in the time of quarantines and social distancing, it’s more important than ever to be able to rely on technology to deliver health care remotely. Telemedicine already allows top-line care to get to the people who need it most, whether it’s care for diabetes or depression. Numerous studies have shown that telehealth can help reduce health care disparities by leveling the playing field for access to high-quality medical care (Shigekawa et al, 2018).7
World-recognized leaders in healthcare have already started successfully delivering hormone therapy via telemedicine (Reisner et al., 2016).8 With Plume, we’ve taken gender-affirming care via telehealth to the next level by operating in multiple states, without limits of insurance coverage. By bringing the best in gender-affirming care to you at home, you have the time and energy to focus on thriving as your authentic self, instead of dealing with a complicated and potentially discriminatory medical system.
Gender-affirming care is literally life-saving, yet for many, it’s remained out of reach. This is the void that Plume will help fill. We know that you need to be able to rely on high quality, convenient care that’s centered on your own individual journey. Plume is built by trans folks for trans folks, and as the first health technology company built for gender diversity, we allow you to consult with your doctor, develop an individualized treatment plan, and receive your prescriptions delivered right to your door, all from our convenient app. So if you need or desire gender-affirming medication as a part of your transition, we are here to make your healthcare experience as convenient and smooth as possible.
2. Safer JD, Coleman E, Feldman J, et al. Barriers to healthcare for transgender individuals. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2016;23(2):168‐171. doi:10.1097/MED.0000000000000227
3.Kalra, A., Patterson, E., Cooper, T., Drake, T., Lashun, S., & K. St. James. (2020). A Blueprint for Trans and NonBinary Sexual Health and Liberation. Washington, D.C.: Grindr for Equality.
4. Dubin SN, Nolan IT, Streed CG Jr, Greene RE, Radix AE, Morrison SD. Transgender health care: improving medical students’ and residents’ training and awareness. Adv Med Educ Pract. 2018;9:377‐391. Published 2018 May 21. doi:10.2147/AMEP.S147183
5. Am. Medical Assn., Health insurance coverage for gender-affirming care of transgender patients (2019). Available at: https://www.ama-assn.org/system/files/2019-03/transgender-coverage-issue-brief.pdf
6. James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality
7. Shigekawa E, Fix M, Corbett G, Roby DH, Coffman J. The Current State Of Telehealth Evidence: A Rapid Review. Health Aff (Millwood). 2018;37(12):1975‐1982. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2018.05132
8. Reisner SL, Radix A, Deutsch MB. Integrated and Gender-Affirming Transgender Clinical Care and Research. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2016;72 Suppl 3(Suppl 3):S235‐S242. doi:10.1097/QAI.0000000000001088