Jasmine Johnson, PharmD, Community-University Health Care Center
Over 75 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have passed in the United States, many signed this year alone. Texas Senate Bill 14, passed June 2, and North Carolina House Bill 808, passed August 16, mandate that hormones, puberty blockers, and gender-affirming surgical procedures will no longer be permitted. In March of 2023, Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota issued an executive order aimed at safeguarding the rights of the LGBTQ+ community when it comes to gender-affirming healthcare. This order covers medical, surgical, counseling, and referral services, including telehealth services, designed to support and affirm an individual's gender identity or expression. A study published in PLoS One by Cunningham and colleagues in December 2022 identified a correlation between suicide- and depression-related web searches and states that have passed anti-transgender legislation. Despite the increase in obstacles to access, the LGBTQ+ population remains actively engaged in seeking care, with many patients traveling to Minnesota and other states now coined “Trans Refuge States.”
Given the present climate, pharmacists are critical in supporting transgender patients and establishing a safe and welcoming environment. While this legislation protects transgender people, their families, and medical practitioners from the legal repercussions of traveling to Minnesota to receive gender-affirming care, they are not protected from stigma and may encounter obstacles obtaining insurance coverage for such care. As the most accessible healthcare provider, pharmacists are well-positioned to develop trust with patients and their families. They can accomplish this by providing resources to patients seeking care, utilizing preferred pronouns, mirroring patients' language, calling the patient by their preferred name rather than their given name at birth (i.e., “deadnaming”), and advocating for gender-inclusive language in healthcare systems. Pharmacists should also be mindful of their impact on patients, particularly those who travel from other states to seek care in Minnesota.
Howell L. Pharmacists can break down barriers to transgender health care. Pharmacy Today. 2023;29(7):32.
Cunningham GB, Watanabe NM, Buzuvis E. Anti-transgender rights legislation and internet searches pertaining to depression and suicide. PloS One. 2022;17(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0279420