Oregon’s Trans and Nonbinary Youth Face Healthcare Challenges, Says New OHSU Study


The Oregon Health and Science University has released a report illustrating the difficulties transgender and nonbinary youth face in accessing health care.  

Dr. Kara Connelly, medical director of the Doernbecher Gender Clinic, told the Portland Mercury “I don’t know that there’s been a survey that’s been as focused on the experiences of trans youth, and focusing on health care priorities, as this one was. We were really pleased with how many respondents we were able to get.”  

Across the state, data was gathered through a survey of 194 trans and nonbinary people from ages 13-21. The report indicates that 77 percent of participants did not seek medical help for their transition. 29 percent said it was because their parents didn’t support it, another 28 percent said their insurance didn’t cover the treatment, and 22 percent said that their parents couldn’t afford it.  

They also expressed difficulty in maintaining physical fitness: 44 percent rarely or never exercise, and 56 percent feel that they are limited by their physical condition.  

According to one participant, “When I had to wear a binder constantly, I just couldn’t exercise.” Another said “I just wear a bra with inserts because I can’t afford the actual surgery. They have a problem staying in front so I don’t get enough fitness.”  

Participants were also asked what they fear most. “The overwhelming majority of them responded that what they fear most is physical abuse, murder, and bullying,” Connelly said. Roughly a quarter feel that their families are unsupportive of their gender identity, 42 percent have experienced abuse, and 40 percent report having been hit.  

“We’ve seen with this survey and with other studies looking at trans youth that gender diverse youth have the same hopes and dreams as their cisgender peers, but our systems are failing them,” Connelly said. “We’re really passionate about working with state organizations to be able to try to reduce the stressors they’re experiencing in their daily lives.”  

By Brandon Urey 

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