Access to healthcare for trans patients limited in Waterloo region, study finds

A new report from the Outlook Study from Wilfrid Laurier University looks at the experiences of trans people in Waterloo region. It found many have had negative experiences when accessing healthcare.

'If you're already at the hospital, where do you go?' researcher Charlie Davis says

A LGBTQ+ pride rainbow flag and a trans pride flag flying next to each other.
A new report from Wilfrid Laurier University's Outlook Study says trans people in Waterloo region often don't feel safe or comfortable when accessing medical care. (CBC)

Trans people in Waterloo region say they often do not feel safe in healthcare environments including emergency rooms, medical offices and hospitals, new results from the Outlook Study have found.

The latest data from the study, conducted by researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University, found 13 per cent of those that took the survey said they had experienced harmful or insulting language from their primary care provider and 23 per cent said they had the same experience from hospital staff.

As well, 15 per cent reported being belittled or ridiculed by hospital staff for being trans.

Charlie Davis is a community psychology Ph. D student and lead author of a fact sheet released this week called Experiences of Trans People in Waterloo Region.

Davis, who identifies as a non-binary trans man and uses pronouns like he and him as well as they and them, says it's discouraging to see people treated this way when they need medical attention.

"You know, 25 per cent said that hospital staff said they don't know enough about trans related health care to provide it, but if you're already at the hospital, where do you go?" Davis said.

"If you doctor says, 'Oh I don't know enough, I can't help you,' is that the end of the conversation? How do we go from there?"

96 per cent told they're 'not normal'

The Outlook Study is one of the largest studies of its kind in Canada. It looks at the needs and experiences of the LGBTQ community in Waterloo region. Because the survey is optional to fill out there is no margin of error, as it's unclear just how many LGBTQ individuals live in the region.

The survey also found 65 per cent of trans people have told their families, but 43 per cent of those who are out said their parents are unsupportive.

As well, 73 per cent reported being called names because of their gender identity while 96 per cent said they've been told they're "not normal."

Davis says the research is validating for some because it shows there are people advocating on their behalf. But the findings are also discouraging.

"Even though we do have trans people who are coming out, who are coming out earlier, who are coming out in larger numbers, there's more media presence, there's more visibility, we haven't actually seen the shift into a greater sense of general acceptance within communities,' Davis said.


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