Unfilled Prescriptions, Missed Checkups and Loneliness: Experts Worry About Health Consequences From States’ Anti-LGBTQ+ Moves

This is something that Dr. Carl Streed, president of the U.S. Professional Association for Transgender Health (USPATH), thinks about all the time: the negative health outcomes of trans people not feeling safe while navigating society. He believes anti-trans policies will increase isolation during what the surgeon general has called an epidemic of isolation and loneliness in the United States.

“These policies that restrict peoples’ public life is effectively directly harming them, both in terms of immediate issues around mental health, connection to community, accessing care in urgent situations, but long-term, we’re going to see worse health outcomes in probably the next five, ten years, if not sooner,” he said.

What do those worse health outcomes look like? Increased isolation, and not being able to participate in public life and engage in-person with community, leads to worse cardiovascular fitness and a higher likelihood of high cholesterol and hypertension. That, in turn, creates a higher risk for heart attacks and strokes. Isolation is also associated with worse cognitive function and decreased memory, Streed said.

“They’re definitely creating quite the checkerboard of restricted public spaces,” said Streed, a primary care physician at the Boston Medical Center. “But the issue is, these are national discourses. What happens in Florida is a conversation I have with my patients in the exam room.”

It’s understandable that transgender people in states without restrictions on their healthcare or ability to access public spaces are anxious about such policies in other states, he said. The restrictions can still affect them while they’re visiting friends and family.

So far this year, the ACLU is tracking roughly 200 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that are still advancing through state legislatures — meaning these bills are active. Although many other bills have been defeated, the fear and dread within the transgender community, and much of the larger LGBTQ+ community, is still at an extreme high.

In Florida, a slew of often confusing anti-LGBTQ+ policies are meant to stoke fear, said Simone Chriss, attorney with the Southern Legal Counsel in Florida and director of the organization’s transgender rights initiative, on a press call in February.

“The intent is to create fear and to make us not understand what our rights are, so that we err on the side of caution. Vagueness and ambiguity is the point,” she said. She was speaking with assembled advocates, locals, and members of the press at an emergency “town hall” to break down the legal ramifications of — and to dispel myths about — Florida’s new driver’s license policy.