A new report claims that Black transgender Southerners are more likely to experience negative health interactions, and are more likely to experience depression, self-harming behaviors, and suicidal ideation than others within the LGBTQ community.
The report was compiled by the Campaign for Southern Equality and Western North Carolina Community Health Services as part of the Southern LGBTQ Health Initiative, a collaboration between the Campaign for Southern Equality and Western North Carolina Community Health Services intended to improve access to LGBTQ-friendly primary care, HIV care, and support services.
The report serves as a supplement to the 2019 Southern LGBTQ Health Survey, which worked with various “Survey Ambassadors” — including a minister, a nightclub promoter, and grassroots leaders — to poll more than 5,600 LGBTQ Southerners about their experiences seeking out physical and mental health care. Much of the data comes from a subset of 131 Black transgender Southerners who completed the survey.
According to the report, fewer than half of Black trans respondents said they always or often have positive experiences when seeking out physical care, compared to 64% of LGBTQ Southerners overall. By comparison, fewer than half of both LGBTQ Southerners overall and of Black trans Southerners say they “always” or “often” have positive experiences when seeking out mental health care, although the percentage of Black trans Southerners with positive experiences still lags behind LGBTQ Southerners overall.
Compared to the overall survey sample, Black trans respondents were significantly more likely to experience depression than LGBTQ Southerners overall, with nearly two-thirds of all Black trans respondents reporting experiences with depression. Black trans respondents are also more likely to engage in self-harming behaviors or report feelings of suicidal ideation.
Of those Black trans respondents, 27.5% reported they are living with HIV, compared to 5% of the overall LGBTQ sample. But Black trans respondents also reported feeling more knowledgeable and comfortable about HIV prevention and testing than the overall sample, and said they get tested more frequently, with two-thirds saying they’ve gotten tested for HIV within the past year, compared to only 39% of LGBTQ Southerners overall.
“As a transgender leader in the South, I know how strong and resilient transgender people are — But to read about respondents’ struggles with mental health challenges, depression and anxiety, and getting access to quality, affirming care breaks my heart,” Ivy Hill, the community health program director for the Campaign for Southern Equality, said in a statement.
“We’ve long known that Black transgender people in the South are some of the most vulnerable folks in our community, and this report details new data that provides additional insights,” added Hill. “Everyone should be able to access the care they need, and we must work to strategically to implement both anti-racist and trans-affirming health care practices…. I hope this report is a call to action for institutions, organizations, and individuals to invest in improving their systems and making tangible change to support Black transgender people in the South.”
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