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Trans Healthcare & COVID-19

Trans health and COVID-19

March 20, 2020

Learn about COVID-19 and Trans-health implications

Given the current coronavirus pandemic, digital platforms are inundated with articles of varying degrees of reliability. However, very few have discussed the relation between trans health and COVID-19.  The reality is that the LGBTI+ community is at a higher risk, as more than 100 organizations state in this OPEN LETTER ABOUT CORONAVIRUS AND THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITIES.  For this reason, we want to emphasize the importance of looking after your health now more than ever.

First, due to an overload of news, many people are likely suffering from informational poisoning which can lead to stress and even anxiety. To this end, our FACIALTEAM psychologist, Marina Rodriguez, would first like to offer a few guidelines for everyone to minimize some of the emotional aspects of this crisis. 

Managing anxiety about COVID-19

First, it is fundamental to accept that it is completely normal to feel fear. Fear is a natural and adaptive reaction to situations that we consider potentially dangerous. Thanks to fear we remain alert, and it is important  now to stay vigilant of hygiene and other social distancing measures for those obliged to leave home.

Secondly, when that fear turns into anxiety, it is no longer constructive and becomes a source of distress. How do I know that my fear has turned into anxiety? For example, when we can’t stop thinking about a specific topic, negative thoughts about the future and even physical changes such as breathlessness, palpitations and a general feeling of discomfort.

Third, if we spend most of our time absorbed with news on COVID-19 constantly, it is more likely that feelings of anguish and lack of control take over, hence an increase in fear and anxiety. So attempting to change our habits to include pleasurable activities such as hobbies, sports, or learning is a favorable way to dissuade your mind from dwelling on the topic. Click the link for a comprehensive BBC News article on managing anxiety and OCD during the COVID-19 crisis.

TNBI Mental Health during the COVID-19 crisis

There are many other things we can all do to alleviate the buildup of stress and consequent anxiety, but it is especially important for the gender transitioning patient.  Our resources for taking care of your body and mind, two inseparable aspects of all of us, are more pertinent than ever for trans+, non-binary, gender-nonconforming or intersex individuals. In addition, the American Psychology Association has several recommendations for dealing with stress during Pandemics.

  • Get informed primarily through the main health authorities: the WHO and CDC and your own national government resources.
  • Do not take more precautions than necessary and avoid talking obsessively about this topic. Stay rooted in daily routines and take breaks from thinking about coronavirus.
  • When you do need to talk about it, remain calm. It’s ok to use humor. These behaviors help to naturally manage your own fear as well as avoid magnifying the anxiety in others.

A little exercise in positivity

Everyone has bad days, it is only natural. This may be worse if you are still trying to get your hormone therapy right. Yet it is inevitable that under the current social conditions, emotions and mood swings may intensify. How may we cope with this? Try to accept the feelings of sadness and lack of motivation which now may arise more frequently due to the pandemic. They are there for a reason.

Our psychologist, Marina, suggests the activity she calls “Letter for Crap Days”, please excuse the vulgarity! She explains, “On a day when you feel well, write or record a message to yourself.  It may feel silly, but give yourself encouragement and remind yourself of the little things which make you feel good, such as listening to that favorite song or stopping to relax with a tea while looking out the window at the tree.” Other ideas could be a little stretching, simple expressions of affection with a loved-one, time with a pet–just pampering yourself in some way by doing what makes you smile.

Practicing Home Isolation

The idea of temporary confinement initially is unwelcome. Self-isolation however is a reality currently for many around the world, so we would like to point out the benefits it offers and how we may take advantage of the situation.

Human beings have a great capacity for adaptation, so we will also eventually adjust to the idea of a quarantine. It is only a matter of time before we become more accustomed to staying at home, enjoying things you normally have no time for. Boredom often sparks ingenuity and leads us to think of creative and productive ways to pass the time.

Moving your body helps calm the mind

Marina also recommends saving a little time each day for physical activity. It serves to improve your mood and prevent your body from suffering the adverse effects of inactivity. It’s simple to adjust the type and level of exercise to your liking. A multitude of free stretching or yoga, guided meditations, and other easy workouts online that require no equipment may be found with a quick online search.

Dr. Capitán explains, “I believe our routines are more necessary than ever. It’s the perfect time to get into the habit of waking early–before anyone else in your house if possible. Before sitting down to work, try to do some physical activity (even 1 square meter is enough to do this). Then a little quiet reflection of your thoughts and feelings (meditation) is great too.  Followed by a nutritious breakfast, this helps me begin the day with a positive outlook. Perhaps others might also benefit, although we don’t always have time for everything, we have to put our personal wellbeing first.”

Online help for the Trans+ community

GenderGP is an online health and wellbeing service specialised in counselling, medication, monitoring and other advice for the trans* community. Their team of experts, advocates and allies provide remote access to healthcare so that you may obtain the assistance you need, wherever you are and whatever your age. GenderGP.com offers timely, accessible and affordable support based on the informed consent model, helping individuals take charge of their own gender journey.

To conclude, please visit the National Center for Transgender Equality’s guide (US) with an array of links to resources: The Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Trans People Need to Know.  For those in Australia, The Gender Centre in Sydney or Equinox in Melbourne remain attentive to the needs of their clients.

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