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Instability in Housing and Medical Care Access: The Inequitable Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on U.S. Transgender Populations

Dylan Felt, Jiayi Xu, Ysabel Beatrice Floresca, Ella Segovia Fernandez, Aaron K Korpak, Gregory Phillips, Xinzi Wang, Caleb W Curry, Lauren B Beach

Transgender Health

Purpose: To assess whether the COVID-19 pandemic has inequitably impacted key social determinants of health (SDoH), specifically employment, housing, and health care, for U.S. transgender populations.

Methods: Between April 13, 2020 and August 3, 2020, we conducted a national, cross-sectional online survey of sexual and gender minority individuals (N=870). We used logistic regression to calculate both unadjusted and adjusted odds of unemployment, homelessness/housing instability, and interruptions in medical care owing to the pandemic by gender and gender modality. Adjusted models controlled for age, race/ethnicity, and region.

Results: In adjusted models, transgender and gender diverse people had 2.12 times the odds of reporting homelessness/housing instability and 2.88 times the odds of reporting medical care interruptions compared with cisgender peers. Transgender men, women, and nonbinary people had 4.12, 3.29, and 3.48 times the adjusted odds of interruptions in medical care compared with cisgender men, respectively. We did not observe significant differences in employment.

Conclusions: Findings add empirical support to the hypothesis that socioeconomic consequences of COVID-19 are inequitably impacting transgender people. To contextualize our results and support future research in this area, we present a conceptual model of the short- and long-term impacts of COVID-19 on transgender populations using a framework of stigma as a fundamental cause of health inequities. Our findings emphasize that public health professionals must urgently consider-and intervene to address-the pandemic's SDoH-related impacts on transgender populations.