by Kate Sosin
Queer women, trans men, and nonbinary people turn to social media to learn about fertility because they can’t have the necessary conversations with their doctors , a new study suggests.
Nearly half (46%) of female-assigned and female-identifying people don’t feel comfortable talking to their health care providers about fertility, according to at-home testing company Modern Fertility and the queer dating app HER. That number jumped to 52% among nonbinary trans people, researchers found.
“We found a significant gap in fertility and family-planning knowledge,” Dr. Amber Worthington of Modern Fertility tells NewNowNext. “But what was really exciting was that we found that an overwhelming majority of our participants wanted to learn more about these topics.”
While 84% of respondents said they wish they knew more about reproductive health care, 33% were trying to find information through hashtags on social media (compared to 11% for cisgender straight women), says Mere Abrams, a nonbinary LCSW gender researcher and consultant for the study.
“That is coupled with the people also sharing some of the more challenging experiences that they’ve had navigating health care as trans and queer people, particularly in the fertility realm,” Abrams tells NewNowNext. “Folks would prefer to be able to get that information from a knowledgeable and affirming specialist.”
In fact, just 4% of respondents said they actually wanted to get that information from social media. For comparison, 59% of cis straight women received reproductive information from their doctors and 82% said they felt comfortable talking to their doctors about fertility.
That lack of access to LGBTQ-affirming reproductive care may have real consequences, the survey suggests. A staggering 89% of participants didn’t know that age was a better indicator of fertility than overall health for people with ovaries. Forty-six percent didn’t know know that trans men on testosterone can still have viable eggs for up to a year.
Furthermore, most were not aware of the extraordinary costs associated with trying to conceive. Over half of participants (52%) didn’t know that insurance companies generally won’t cover insemination for people under age 35 unless a person has already tried 12 times, which can cost thousands of dollars.
Still, the survey has some limitations, Worthington adds. Its 207 participants trended mostly white (84%) and educated (60% had finished college or graduate school).
“So this is a small step in looking at what these different topics within this population,” Worthington tells NewNowNext. “It’s important in that sense. As you continue to conduct research, that’s when you get other samples to corroborate those findings.”
Kate Sosin is an award-winning, trans-identified news and investigative reporter.