The traditional healthcare system in the U.S. doesn’t support trans parents and their families: they face discrimination, ignorance, and misinformation from providers and are burdened with high costs as they start and raise families. Employers can play an essential role in closing these gaps in care for their trans employees to improve health, drive outcomes, and increase employee loyalty—here’s how. 

Understanding existing gaps in transgender family-building support

44% of the estimated 1.4 million transgender people living in the U.S. are 18-34 years old, meaning many trans people are at the age where they are thinking about starting or growing their families. 48% of trans millennials report that they are actively planning to grow their families or intending to do so in the future, and they often face significant barriers that hinder their ability to start and raise their families:

  • 43% of trans people live in a state that allows transgender exclusions in health insurance coverage.
  • Nearly one in five trans people report being refused care outright because they are transgender or gender non-conforming. 
  • 50% of trans people report having to educate a healthcare provider about providing gender-affirming care. 
  • Only 20% of trans people have discussed fertility with a healthcare provider, and only 13% have been told about the effects of gender-affirming hormones on fertility.
  • 45 states don’t legally prohibit discrimination against foster and adoptive parent applicants based on their gender identity and sexual orientation.

While there have been advancements over the years in connecting transgender people with the care and resources they need to thrive, the healthcare system—and society as a whole—still has a long way to go before transgender people have the same basic rights that are afforded to heterosexual couples looking to start a family.

How to help transgender employees as they plan, grow, and raise families

Trans employees who want to grow their families don’t have time to wait for society to address the discrimination they face. Existing discrimination means that their physical and mental health needs are not properly being addressed, creating additional obstacles during the family-building process. To fill in the gaps, employers can play a powerful role in connecting trans employees with inclusive, comprehensive resources so they can feel seen, supported, and empowered as they start and raise their families.

Offer inclusive fertility benefits

Before starting gender-affirming hormone treatments, very few transgender people elect to preserve their fertility—or even know they can—due to a lack of education about their options. Even though only three percent of trans people freeze their eggs or bank their sperm, 51% of trans women say that they wish they had preserved their fertility. For those that are able to preserve their fertility, the costs can be significant: sperm banking can cost $2.5k upfront with fees up to $400 per year, egg freezing can cost upwards of $12k with $500 annual fees, and IVF may run up to $14k per attempt.

To support trans employee fertility, employers need to cover several aspects: first, they must offer their employees the resources necessary to understand their unique fertility needs. These resources could include clinically-vetted articles, appointments with fertility specialists who are experienced in working with transgender people, and referrals to inclusive fertility clinics. Second, employers can support trans employees by covering the costs of egg and sperm preservation, IUI/IVF, surrogacy, and adoption.

Connect them with culturally-competent care

There is no question that transgender people face significant discrimination when seeking medical care. Three in ten transgender people report delaying care due to fear of discrimination from providers, and of those that do visit a doctor, nearly 20% say that their healthcare provider knows “almost nothing” about transgender care. 

For a group with such a high likelihood of facing discrimination and ignorance when seeking care, care matching can be a lifesaver during the family-building journey. The rise of virtual care makes it easier to give trans employees access to providers and specialists who share their same background and cultural experiences, regardless of location. Digital family health benefits can connect trans employees to midwives, doulas, OB-GYNs, fertility specialists, and more who are either transgender people themselves or are highly experienced in supporting LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Help them navigate their family-building and -raising journey

Starting and raising a family is a challenging time for anyone. For transgender people, it can be a dizzying array of fertility treatments, navigating a biased adoption/surrogacy system, and triggering experiences of body dysmorphia and being misgendered. As employers build out their transgender family benefits, it’s essential to ensure that trans employees have individual, customized support throughout the process of starting and raising a family.

Care advocates can serve as the connective tissue between all the stages of the transgender family-building journey, ensuring that trans employees are able to access and navigate the care that is available to them. These advocates can help trans people find and access culturally-competent care throughout every step of their journey, support them in navigating insurance coverage for fertility treatments, and connect them with the resources they need in the postpartum phase.

Provide mental health support

Transgender people experience extremely high rates of depression—40% of transgender youth say they feel depressed most or all the time and one in five has attempted suicide. The family-building journey alone can also cause mental health issues, with upwards of 50% of people struggling with fertility reporting symptoms of depression, and one in seven birthing parents reporting postpartum depression.

Offering trans employees continuous access to mental health treatment during the family-building journey and beyond is essential. Virtual counseling and therapy sessions can be a lifeline for employees who need immediate support or want a provider who understands their unique background and experiences. Some mental health providers specialize in the unique challenges surrounding LGBTQIA+ family-building, offering transgender employees targeted, empathetic support as they start and grow their families.

Offer access to resources and safe spaces for connection

With a lack of provider knowledge around transgender people’s family-building journeys, employees are often forced to look for the information they need outside of the doctor’s office. Outside of providing virtual access to specialized, knowledgeable providers, employers can support transgender employees by ensuring they have ongoing access to clinically-vetted content and forums that help them navigate the journey. Onboarding a digital family health benefit that includes customized resources for every stage of the transgender family journey will empower trans people with the knowledge they need to advocate for themselves when starting and raising a family. 

Support transgender employees with Maven Clinic

When looking for ways to support transgender employees who are starting and raising families, employers should find a digital family health benefit that offers virtual, inclusive, whole-person care. As a complete digital health solution for starting and raising healthy families, Maven is uniquely equipped to support all pathways to and through parenthood.

Over 8% of providers on Maven identify as LBGTQIA+, and 40% have strong clinical experience working with the LBGTQIA+ community. From fertility to adoption, surrogacy, or pregnancy and into parenthood, Maven has the specialty care providers, Care Advocates, and resources trans employees need to navigate this vulnerable—and joyous—time of life. To find out how Maven can help support families on your team, contact us today.

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