Below are answers to some common health questions asked by trans people living in Rhode Island.
- Is there a needle exchange program in RI that Trans people may want to access?
Yes. AIDS Care Ocean State operates a free needle exchange program that has the right size needle gauges often used for intramuscular and subcutaneous hormone injections. AIDS Care Ocean State
It is also important to note that you do not need a prescription to purchase needles of any size from your local pharmacy.
- Are there any online social/support resources for trans people and their families?
Laura’s Playground and Susan’s place are repositories for a wealth of resources. They also both have chat room features for people who need support and cannot or do not want to attend an inperson group.
FTM International has a list of resources, meetings and a mailing list to help Transmen find support.
TYFA (Trans Youth Family Allies) has a great online support network for transgender youth and their parents.
- Is there a list of health care and mental health providers that are sensitive to the needs of trans people in Rhode Island or New England?
Yes. Check out COMPASS for a list of health care providers and mental health professionals that serve the trans community. Also, you may want to consider seeking care at Fenway Community Health. You may also want to check out Youth Pride’s listing of recommended providers in Rhode Island.
- Are there any social/support groups in Rhode Island for trans people?
Yes. There are a number of social groups for trans people to check out: TGI Network has 3 groups (Borderlands, FTM group and Trans partners), Youth Pride Inc., Tiffany Club (MTF), Compass (FTM) each have 1 group along with many resources listed on their websites. You can also check out OPTIONS under social groups.
- How frequently should trans people get tested for HIV and STDs?
Trans people who are sexually active, should get tested at least once a year, and possibly more frequently depending on their anatomy, their sexual practices and how many partners they have. Check with you doctor to find out how often you should be tested.
- Are there any special issues related to negotiating safe sex for trans people?
Yes. Trans people represent a broad spectrum of individuals who may have unique issues related to disclosure, sex drive, sexual identity, and physical make-up. If you would like to talk to someone about how to negotiate safer sex, give a call to the TGI Network for assistance.
- Are the rates of HIV higher in trans people?
Based on recent analysis of 29 different needs assessment studies (mostly from large urban areas), community health experts now believe that as many as 1 in 4 Transgender Women are HIV positive, while only half that many (1-8) know their status.
- Are trans people at any increased risk for HIV or STDs?
The individual behaviors that put people at risk for HIV and STDs are the same for everyone, including trans people.
Importantly, trans people need to avoid needle sharing for the purpose of any injections – including hormones and silicone. Needle sharing for any purpose poses a risk for HIV transmission.
- Can you recommend any websites that trans people could access for general health information?
The Center of Excellence for Transgender Health is a great website for trans people and their providers.
- How can I safely get hormones in Rhode Island?
The best way to get hormones safely in Rhode Island is to find a trans-friendly doctor. The TGI Network is a helpful resource for finding doctors that are sensitive the trans community.
Your doctor will be able to access your readiness for hormones and discuss informed consent. According to the WPATH Standards of Care v.6: “Psychotherapy is not an absolute requirement,” especially when the alternative is taking hormones unsafely.