COVID-19 AND TRANSGENDER HEALTH

Due to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) situation, general practitioners (GPs, primary care doctors) in Aotearoa New Zealand are currently moving towards stopping face-to-face visits and outpatient clinics. The plan is for GPs to switch to virtual visits, which means phone calls and secure in-app email for people who are already signed up to patient portals, such as ManageMyHealth. Secure video links are also likely to start being used by GPs and primary care staff too. While this is not the same as checking in with people face-to-face, doctors are very aware that they need to keep people physically distanced from others and out of busy clinic waiting rooms to reduce their COVID-19 risk. 

People who need to physically go in to a primary care clinic, such as those who need injections, can still do so, but clinics will be checking first that people do not have any COVID-19 symptoms. For those who do have these symptoms, to reduce risk to others in the waiting room, they will be asked to not come to the clinic until they are feeling better.

For transgender people in Aotearoa New Zealand, this means:

  • Anyone who is not yet registered with a GP is encouraged to register with a GPs’ practice as soon as possible, so that they can get virtual support and ongoing medical care if their usual hormone provider suddenly has to close. At higher alert levels, hospital-based teams including endocrinology and sexual health staff are likely to get diverted to other duties for many months. That means nearly all health service activity that is not COVID-19 related will stop, including gender affirming medical and surgical procedures. 

  • It is important to have a phone if at all possible, rather than relying on personal email because email isn't secure for personal health information and health providers are being advised not to use this. We know that some places have removed “unknown caller” status, so that patients know who is calling and feel more comfortable to answer. Secure email via patient portals, such as ManageMyHealth, work well for those who don't like phone calls.

Recommended resources:

ACON New South Wales, Trans and Gender Diverse People and COVID-19: https://www.aconhealth.org.au/trans_and_gender_diverse_people_and_covid_19

Ending HIV, Love in the Time of COVID-19: https://www.endinghiv.org.nz/articles/sex/love-in-the-time-of-covid-19/#first-hero

Ministry of Health, Mental Health: https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/mental-health 

Navigating COVID-19 and Chest Binding: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=675479766556034

New Zealand Government COVID-19 Information: https://covid19.govt.nz/

Hauora Tāhine, Coping with Gender Dysphoria:   https://patha.nz/resources/Documents/Coping%20with%20Gender%20Dysphoria%20NZ%202020.pdf

Mental Health Foundation on looking after your mental health at this time: https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/covid-19/

A GP blog on COVID-19: https://www.gps-can.com.au/

Research participation:

Researchers in Europe are conducting a survey for transgender people to participate in. They want to learn transgender people have been affected by the COVID-19 situation and what consequences this has for their physical and mental health. You can participate in the study here: https://transcarecovid-19.com/english/


About PATHA

The Professional Association for Transgender Health Aotearoa (PATHA) is an interdisciplinary professional organisation working to promote the health, wellbeing, and rights of transgender people. We are a group of professionals who have experience working for transgender health in clinical, academic, community, legal and other settings.

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