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Coronavirus: many transgender, non-binary Canadians report health-care interruptions

FILE. Joe Raedle/ Getty Images

A new report says that following the COVID-19-related shift from in-person to virtual or telehealth visits, a significant proportion of transgender or non-binary Canadians are reporting interruptions in health care.

Trans PULSE Canada says in the roughly six or seven months between the start of the pandemic in mid-March and the completion of its survey in September and October, 35.4 per cent of respondents experienced an unmet general health-care need, while 37.4 per cent reported an unmet mental health care need.

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According to the report, 15.1 per cent of respondents avoided virtual or telehealth services because they are trans/non-binary.

Of the 58.4 per cent of respondents using hormones, 27.8 per cent experienced an interruption in their medication.

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The survey found that of the 6.8 per cent of respondents not yet using hormones but needing a referral or new prescription, 48.5 per cent were unable to obtain the referral or prescription.

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The data is based on 820 participants who responded to a COVID-19-specific online survey in English or French in September or October. The 820 respondents were among those who had previously participated in Trans PULSE’s 2019 national survey and had agreed to be re-contacted for future research.

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Trans PULSE Canada also notes that people who are transgender or non-binary are significantly more likely to experience unmet health-care needs, even before the pandemic.

The group says roughly four per cent of the general population reported experiencing an unmet health-care need, according to data from the 2015-16 Canadian Community Health Survey.

In comparison, 45 per cent of transgender and non-binary Canadians reported experiencing an unmet health-care need within the past year, according to data from January 2020.

Trans PULSE Canada is a Western University-led “national collaborative community research project” funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The research team includes contributions from “more than 100 community and academic researchers.”

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