On March 31st, the Institute of Medicine released a comprehensive report detailing what is known about the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. This report is an important step in the official recognition of specific health needs of transgender people, and it makes a valuable contribution to the growing body of evidence about the health disparities that affect transgender Americans. The report recognizes that much is still unknown about the health of LGBT people and calls for enhanced data collection and research in order to better understand and track transgender health disparities. Specifically, the report states that, “To account for the many areas in LGBT health that require research, the committee’s research agenda reflects the most pressing areas, specifically demographic research, social influence,…and transgender-specific health needs.”

Click Here to see the report directly from the Institute of Medicine.

The Transgender Law Center expects that this report will be a gateway to more research on transgender health disparities, just as previous historic reports about diverse populations have encouraged better services for Americans from a variety of backgrounds, including those from different age, race, class, and gender groups.

In order to move these efforts forward in California, State Senator Christine Kehoe has introduced the Survey Data inclusion Act (SB 416). The act would direct the state government to include in its surveys voluntary self-identification questions regarding sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, domestic partnership status, and the gender of a spouse. This legislation – together with the Federal call for increased data collection – is critical to ensuring that policymakers and health care providers have tools to promote the health and well being of transgender people and their families.

“Getting adequate healthcare is a struggle for too many of us, but transgender people face a host of additional challenges – from a lack of access to basic coverage, to a lack of understanding among healthcare providers or even outright hostility and cruelty,” says Masen Davis, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center. “In an environment of limited resources, it is critically important that all levels of government arm themselves with the best research possible to make decisions about how those limited resources can best be used.”

While just a first step, the Institute of Medicine report addresses a critical need and the Transgender Law Center hopes that further research will result in a better understanding of how to combat the entrenched health disparities that transgender people experience every day. We will continue to work with policymakers and researchers to move this research agenda forward and ensure adoption of policies that protect and promote the health of transgender people.