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Health Information for Transgender Individuals

Transgender individuals can have unique topics to discuss with their health care providers because they may be at greater risk for certain conditions. See the below topics that are important to consider for your health care and well-being.

Important Topics to Discuss with Your Health Care Provider

Transgender individuals need a health care provider that’s LGBTQ+ affirming and familiar with the medical, emotional, and behavioral issues that are unique to their community. They often face mental, behavioral, and physical health challenges that their provider should be aware of and help them to navigate. Transgender individuals also face challenges regarding health care coverage and experience fear of discrimination from both employers and health care providers.1

Each transgender person’s journey is unique to them and fully dependent on their internal sense of self, gender affirmation goals, and available resources. Not all transgender individuals want to or are able to socially, legally, and/or medically transition. Some of this information may only be relevant for individuals who are in the process of or are interested in medically transitioning.

Speak with your provider about what you envision your path to be and the steps you want to take to get there.

Here are some topics that you may want to consider when talking to your health care provider:

1. Access to Care

If your health care provider has the special skills, experience, and training to appropriately treat LGBTQ+ individuals, then they are more likely to provide you with the competent care you need. You can find a provider who is affirming, is competent in treating transgender individuals, and understands your journey and unique health needs at the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) website. Be sure to review your coverage and make sure your coverage and make sure your provider is in-network.

2. Health History

It’s critically important that you find a health care provider you can trust. Being open and honest about your life, medications, past surgeries, and illness history can make a significant difference in improving your personal health and wellbeing and establishing an appropriate health care regimen going forward.

3. Hormone Replacement Therapy

Talk with your health care provider about your history with or plans to begin gender affirming hormones. If you’re starting hormones for the first time, your doctor can share important health considerations related to your hormone replacement therapy. You should only take hormones prescribed by your health care provider.

For transgender individuals taking estrogen, consult your doctor about blood clots, swelling, high or low blood pressure, and high blood sugar. For transgender individuals taking testosterone, consult your doctor about taking blood tests to ensure your testosterone dosage is safe.

4. Heart Health1

Transgender individuals may be at a greater risk for heart attack and stroke. Gender affirming hormone use, smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes can increase this risk. Tell your health care provider about any symptoms you’re experiencing right away so they can tailor your hormone replacement therapy to your specific health needs.

5. Cancer Screenings1

It’s possible, but very rare, to develop cancer due to gender affirming hormones. Ask your health care provider about the specific cancer screenings you should receive as part of your hormone replacement therapy.

6. Alcohol and Substance Use

Alcohol can have negative interactions with gender affirming hormones, and smoking can raise your risk of heart and lung disease, especially if you’re taking hormones. Talk with your health care provider about how much alcohol is safe for you to consume. You can also confidentially ask your health care provider for help if you’re concerned about, or trying to quit, smoking.

7. Depression and Anxiety

Transgender individuals experience greater rates of depression and anxiety than other members of the LGBTQ+ community.3 Additionally, transgender individuals experience higher rates of suicidal thoughts compared to their LGBTQ+ counterparts.3

Transgender individuals who identify as African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native, or Multiracial/Mixed Race are more likely to attempt suicide than white transgender individuals.3

If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, talk with a mental health professional or your health care provider to see what programs and support are available to you.

8. Silicone Injections1

Transgender individuals may consider or desire silicone injections. Consult with a medical professional if you are considering silicone injections. Injections not performed by licensed medical professionals can lead to scarring, contamination, and hepatitis or HIV transmission.

9. Diet and Exercise

Eating nutritiously and regularly exercising are key to a healthy lifestyle. If you’re planning to have gender affirmation surgery, you can appropriately care for and improve your health during and after surgery by maintaining a healthy physical condition and weight.


Related

Health Concerns for Lesbian and Bisexual Women Health Concerns for Gay and Bisexual Men

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1This information may only be relevant to certain individuals depending on anatomy, physiology, and personal experience.

2National LGBTQ Task Force Injustice at Every Turn: A report of the national transgender discrimination survey.

3 American Psychiatric Association, Mental health disparities: LGBTQ, accessed June 9, 2022, https://www.psychiatry.org/File%20Library/Psychiatrists/Cultural-Competency/Mental-Health-Disparities/Mental-Health-Facts-for-LGBTQ.pdf

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