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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) and Western North Carolina Community Health Services (WNCCHS) released a new report about the health experiences of Black Transgender Southerners, as a supplement to The Report of the 2019 Southern LGBTQ Health Survey. The publication of the report coincided with Transgender Awareness Week.

The report, “The Health Experiences of Black Transgender Southerners,” includes responses from 131 Black transgender Southerners, a cohort from among the more than 5,600 LGBTQ Southerners who took the 2019 Southern LGBTQ Health Survey, which was the the largest sample ever of LGBTQ Southerners focused on health and healthcare., the organization stated.

Key finding include:

• Less than half of Black transgender respondents said that they always or often had positive experiences with physical (49.7 percent) or mental healthcare (42.3 percent) providers, which is “significantly worse” than the experiences of the overall sample (of whom 64.3 percent and 47.0 percent said they always or often have positive experiences with physical health and mental health providers, respectively).

• Compared to the overall survey sample, Black transgender respondents reported significantly higher rates of depression (68.7 percent, or 14 points higher than overall sample), self-harming behaviors (26.7 percent, more than 6 points higher than the overall sample) and suicidal ideation (38.2 percent, 12 points higher than the overall sample).

• In the survey, 27.5 percent of Black transgender respondents reported living with HIV, compared to 5 percent of the overall sample. Black transgender respondents reported more knowledge and comfort related to HIV prevention and testing than our overall survey sample and were tested for HIV more frequently, with 67.1 percent getting tested at least yearly compared to 38.9 percent of the overall sample.

Community Health Program Director of Campaign for Southern Equality Ivy Hill said, “As a transgender leader in the South, I know how strong and resilient transgender people are — but to read about respondents’ struggles with mental health challenges, depression and anxiety, and getting access to quality, affirming care breaks my heart. We’ve long known that Black transgender people in the South are some of the most vulnerable folks in our community, and this report details new data that provides additional insights. Everyone should be able to access the care they need, and we must work to strategically to implement both anti-racist and trans-affirming health care practices.

Led by a team of LGBTQ Southerners, the Southern LGBTQ Health Survey was rooted in community-based research methods, including working with a team of survey ambassadors who spanned the region and who included a minister, a nightclub promoter and grassroots leaders. The project is part of the Southern LGBTQ Health Initiative, a collaboration of CSE and WNCCHS to improve access to LGBTQ-friendly primary care, HIV care and support services across the South. In addition to community-based research, this initiative involves training primary care providers in affirming healthcare practices and providing direct funding to grassroots groups leading innovations in access to LGBTQ healthcare.

info: bit.ly/3nOJ7Yr. southernequality.org.

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Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.