Last issue, we opened a reader survey to discover the demographics of our readership, the issues they face and that they see as important in the trans community, and what they want more information on from Trans-Health.
Demographically, the results were not very surprising. White MTFs with high levels of education and income dominated survey results. The largest groups of readers by affiliation with the trans community were MTFs (44%), FTMs (20%), genderqueers and crossdressers as a group (14%), and non-trans identified gays, lesbians, and bisexuals (10%). Significant others, friends, family, and associates (SOFFAs) of trans people were three percent of the readership, and professionals with an interest in trans issues were four percent.
The reported sexual orientation represented an interesting bell curve of sexuality, with the majority identifying as bi-or pan-sexual. It’s notable that there were no respondents under the age of 18; respondents were all between 18 and 69, with nearly half between the ages of 26 and 45. The survey allowed for multiple responses in the race/ethnicity category; and a few respondents refused to answer the question or answered with a response like “human.” Only 4% of survey respondents have not completed high school, and 48% have a four-year college degree or greater. The same percentage are earning at least $30,000 a year. A third of respondents are making $20,000 a year or less.
Issues We Face
Readers were asked a series of questions on issues facing the transgender community. First we asked, What are the issues you see facing the transgender community? Second we asked, What issues do you face as a trans person? Lastly, we asked what issues readers would like to see covered in Trans-Health.
Overwhelmingly, readers see transition as their overwhelming health concern, with access to general care running second. It has been observed by those in health care services that serve the transgender community that this prioritization has a negative impact on the general health of trans people.
According to answers we received, the problem lies in part with access, and in part with community information about good health. One participant wrote in response to the question of issues facing the trans community, “Access to good health care which also takes into account our special needs. Our community needs more information so that we can make better, more healthy lifestyle choices.” It is possible to read into this list of other written-in responses: “access to educated, trans-positive medical professionals;” “access to accepting, respectful, knowledgeable health care in all areas… access to safe emergency room care;” “access to health care that incorporates general health with trans specific services;” “mental health issues, reproductive care;” “racism & classism;” “Misunderstanding by others… Prejudice we at least CAN overcome;” “Understanding who I am;” and finally, “acceptance.” It seems that if we can understand ourselves and educate ourselves and our providers about our needs, we would come a long way toward reaching goals for overall health in the trans community.
Several participants wrote in specific health issues they’re facing, including those surrounding health insurance and paying for GRS, other health conditions including arthritis, attention deficit disorder, and mental health issues. When asked what they would like to read more about in Trans-Health, surgery and hormones were at the top of the list, with some participants writing in that they would like to know about the long-term risks of HRT. Many of the suggestions were so interesting that they warrant inclusion here. The particular issues of those who are transitioning in alternative ways, or who are not transitioning at all, but finding ways to incorporate the gender-related portions of their lives are evident in suggested topics like “living as one gender while hiding the truth;” “Living between Genders;” and “non-op, non-hormones trans health care.”
Others express a curiosity about one another’s experiences, and how multiple identities converge in the trans community: “more exploration of gender variance, less emphasis on the binary poles of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ (even with the transitive elements);” “how race and class play a part in our lives as trans people, and how it affects our access not only to health care, but also to basic information about the lives of other trans people;” “The ‘invisibility’ of transsexuals in the queer community and the emotional toll one may experience;” “Coming out, for a second time, to the straight and queer communities;” and “how FTMs come to the decision that they are who they are.” It is the intent of the survey to better serve the needs of the readership, and to broaden its audience to include as many people in the trans communities as possible. Based on these responses, we have established the following goals for ourselves-the editorship of Trans-Health-for the following year:
- Do more concentrated outreach to trans youth and people of color
- Include more articles on the mental and social aspects of transition
- Present more information on GRS options
- Cover more medical articles on HRT and long-term health risks of trans people
- Publish articles on health care needs assessments of the trans community, for the benefit of health care providers
- Invite activists in transgender health care to write about their work and advise readers on how they can improve health care access for trans people in their community
We encourage your feedback. If you can write about any of the issues affecting the health of the trans community, particularly those included here, see our submissions guidelines and send us your idea or article. If you have additional suggestions, or would like to open a dialogue in our Letters to the Editor section on this survey and the needs of the trans community, write to us.
The survey has been closed, but a new one will appear in about a year to follow up on our progress. Thank you to each of you who participated.
The Editorial Staff of Trans-Health