The Fenway Institute Leads Innovative Transgender Health Research

Despite growing societal awareness and acceptance, transgender people still face significant barriers to health and wellness. Researchers from The Fenway Institute have published a Lancet series of papers on transgender health needs in an effort to both expose and address these inequities. Lead by Dr. Sari L. Reisner, Affiliated Research Scientist at The Fenway Institute, the findings shine a much needed spotlight on the unique health needs and disparities of the transgender population.

“The Lancet transgender health series highlights the vital importance of linking health and human rights to improve transgender population health globally,” said Reisner. “To my knowledge, it is the first major peer-reviewed scientific medical journal in the world that ever dedicated a series to transgender health globally.”

Global health burden and needs of transgender populations: a review examines the high prevalence of adverse health outcomes for transgender people, including HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, mental health challenges, and substance addiction. However, it’s difficult to truly get the full picture around transgender health, due to the small number of researchers that are actually looking at this issue global. As the study team notes, “the absence of survey items with which to identify transgender respondents in general surveys often restricts the availability of data with which to estimate the magnitude of health inequities and characterize the population-level health of transgender people globally.”

The second paper, titled Transgender community voices: a participatory population perspectivefollows Dr. Reisner’s research model of directly involving the population being studied – here, transgender people – in the conversation. The voices shown here are not passive subjects, but individuals whose have become active study participants by sharing their personal stories.

“Gender diversity exists everywhere,” Reisner said. “This research series underscores the need to integrate health and human rights approaches to protect the health and wellbeing of our diverse communities worldwide.”

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