One in four transgender people delay seeking healthcare due to discrimination, according to the National Center of Transgender Equality. A startup called MyTransHealth aims to address this with a website designed to help trans people access safe healthcare.
The service, which will be free to use, was fully funded on Kickstarter, raising $30K, and will launch this fall in New York City, Miami and San Francisco. They chose New York City and San Francisco because of the large trans communities and resources available. And for Miami, they see a growing trans community with great need for resources.
When it first launches, the MyTransHealth website will include a list of verified doctors in each city along with a detailed search feature allowing users to locate providers by the type of care they need.
“There have been lists before that are basically crowdsourced dumps of data or they’re not maintained,” Amelia Gapin, co-founder and CTO of MyTransHealth, says. “You don’t know the quality of that data, so we wanted to address that, as well, to make sure that people can trust what they get from us. That way there’s accountability.”
Gapin says they’re launching with the responsive site instead of a mobile application so it is more accessible to the trans community. According to the National LGBTQ Task Force, transgender people are four times as likely to have an annual income under $10,000, which means smartphone apps would not be as accessible.
After launching with the verified providers and detailed search, Gapin says MyTransHealth will introduce reviews and crowdsourcing.
To be on the site, healthcare providers must pass a screening process that entails answering a series of questions to determine their knowledge of trans issues and level of inclusiveness. They already have over 50 doctors in their database and have been contacted by several doctors who are willing to learn more.
With the Kickstarter funding, MyTransHealth will hire other transgender people to help verify the providers. Their lists and reviews will be heavily screened to insure the validity of each provider.
Gapin says that the team was motivated by how many transgender people shared their stories via the #TransHealthFail hashtag, showing that MyTransHealth is necessary and important.
The risk is even higher for trans people of color. The National Center for Transgender Equality also reports that 34 percent of black transgender people reported postponing care when they needed it due to fear of discrimination. Gapin and her team hope to account for that during the screening process for doctors.
”We are aware of the fact that we are five white people working on this, which means that there is a whole experience that none of us know,” she says. “It is really important to us that we get people involved who do have those experiences to make sure we’re covering everyone. We’re going to ask the doctors if they have experience with working with trans people of color and minority communities.”
Gapin told me about a transgender woman who took a friend, also transgender, to the ER. While there, the woman and her friend witnessed a doctor and nurses laughing at her instead of providing care. As a result, Gapin said, the friend avoided going to the ER in the future and eventually died because of it.
“Just a reminder that lives are literally at stake.”