This is a summary, written by members of the CITF Secretariat, of:

Grey C, Sinno J, Zhang H, Daroya E, Skakoon-Sparling S, Klassen B, Lessard D, Hart TA, Cox J, Stewart M, Grace D. Queering public health: A critical examination of healthcare access and gender expression among trans, nonbinary, and other gender nonconforming people during COVID-19. Health & Social Care in the Community. 2023 Mar 4; doi;

The results and/or conclusions contained in the research do not necessarily reflect the views of all CITF members.

A paper, published in Health & Social Care in the Community, reported that trans, nonbinary, and other gender nonconforming (TGNC) participants in the CITF-funded Engage COVID-19 study experienced significant barriers to healthcare during COVID-19 in Canada. Additionally, the barriers increased as lockdowns were implemented and public health resources were redistributed to tackle the spread of the virus. The study was led by Dr. Daniel Grace (University of Toronto).

Key findings:

  • Three salient themes were identified based on TGNC participants’ discussions of gender identity, service access, and community support during COVID-19. These interrelated themes captured various changes in participants’ access to gender-affirming health services and support systems during the pandemic:
    • TGNC participants reported barriers to trans healthcare during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Several participants indicated that some public health interventions during COVID-19 (i.e., lockdowns) eased the pressure to “perform” gender roles due to fewer in-person interactions.
    • During lockdowns, TGNC participants increasingly cultivated community networks online. Nevertheless, participants reported longing for the social support that was available to them during pre-COVID.
    • Lack of access to community spaces during lockdowns had a negative impact on participants’ mental health, despite reduced pressure to perform gender roles and opportunities for social engagement in online spaces.

The Engage COVID-19 study examined the impact of COVID-19 on gay, bisexual, queer, and other men who have sex with men (GBQM) living in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. For this qualitative analysis, 93 participants were interviewed between November 2020 and February 2021 to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on their lives.

17 of the 93 participants interviewed identified as trans, nonbinary, and other gender nonconforming (TGNC) people. Ages ranged from 21 to 76 years. Approximately 50% of participants were 30 years of age or under at the time of the interview. The average age of this sample was 34 years. Vancouver had seven TGNC participants, while Montreal and Toronto had five TGNC participants each. As the researchers point out, TGNC people include diverse communities and people who face significant health disparities, including poor mental health, and barriers to medical care, including stigma and lack of trans-specific medical expertise.