We Are FA-MI-LY!
Or so Sister Sledge (who recorded the song, written by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers) would have us think. And indeed, we are—sometimes gladly; sometimes not so much. Sometimes it depends on the family we’re thinking of: The one in which we grew up? The one we procreated? The one we chose? Or maybe even our fur (or finned or feathered) family, for those of us whose homes and hearts are shared with companion creatures?
In this column, we’re going to focus on two of our family connections.
First up: our transgender family members, who were featured in a nifty article published recently.
On April 22, JAMA Internal Medicine published a Research Letter online, reporting “Findings from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System [BRFSS] on Health-Related Quality of Life Among US Transgender Adults, 2014-2017.”
So—what’s the big deal? Quite simply, the big deal is that “findings” result from research. Which you can’t do without data. And historically, there’s been a lack of routine data collection which included explicit identification of transgender individuals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with other agencies, set out to address that problem some years ago. CDC did so partly through the BRFSS, a state-level health survey of adults age 18 or older. The CDC funds the survey, which is fielded annually in every state. In 2014, CDC added an optional set of questions on sexual orientation and gender identity to the survey. By the end of 2017, 36 states or territories had asked their survey participants these questions at least once. (Delaware is among the 36.)
Researchers have been pooling the data across states and years to assemble large enough groups of transgender participants to begin to draw some comparisons between transgender and cisgender participants. The JAMA Internal Medicine piece is one of the most recent to report the results of those comparisons, and includes responses provided by 3,075 transgender survey participants.
One reason we were especially interested in these results: In our CAMP Rehoboth 2017 survey, we had several transgender participants. We prepared some basic summaries of these individuals’ responses, but it was a very small group of people. So, we wondered how the findings among this far larger group might compare with our small-group summary results.
There are distinct similarities: Our transgender participants also were younger than our cisgender participants, more likely to smoke cigarettes, and more likely to report they were in fair/poor health.
One (very positive) way in which our small group differed: A large majority (86 percent) reported they were physically active three to five times per week; in the larger group, 35 percent reported engaging in no physical activity at all.
Having the findings of the larger survey provides us with a useful comparator, against which we can assess our local results. Where results are similar, we can feel more confident of our findings; where they are dissimilar, we know to look harder. Just one more way we can work to connect with and support our transgender family members.
Want to read more? The JAMA Internal Medicine piece is at https://jamanetwork.com.
A FEW TRANS FACTS
Transgender participants were:
→ Younger: 51 percent were age 18 to 44, v. 44 percent of cisgender participants.
→ More likely to have a high school diploma or less: 54 percent v. 42 percent.
→ More likely to have an annual income of less than $25,000: 46 percent v. 27 percent, and less likely to have an annual income of at least $75,000: 25 percent v. 34 percent.
Health risk factors
Transgender participants were:
→ More likely to be current cigarette smokers: 19 percent v. 16 percent of cisgender participants.
→ Less likely to have health insurance: 80 percent v. 85 percent.
→ More likely to experience financial barriers to accessing health care: 19 percent v. 13 percent.
Health-related quality of life
Transgender participants were:
→ More likely to report they were in fair/poor (v. good/excellent) health: 25 percent v. 18 percent.
→ More likely to report having experienced severe mental distress in the past 30 days: 20 percent v. 12 percent.
And second—about that fur (finned, feathered) family….
June is Pet Preparedness Month! Who knew?! And wait—what are we preparing them for?
Emergencies. Such as? In this area, perhaps hurricanes and floods; even tornados come to mind. Nor’easters can take out the power for days, or topple a tree onto your house.
You may well have a plan in place for yourself, but are the animals who are a part of your family also a part of that plan? If not, they should be: They aren’t going to formulate one themselves, and you’re not going to think of everything if you wait until you’re in the midst of a disaster. A little foresight is good, here. A lot is even better.
So—what’s in the plan?
First off, exactly what will you do if there’s an emergency? This may be situation-specific; i.e., in some cases you might shelter in place, while in others you may have to evacuate. Figure out what you and your pets would do in each case.
Think about how you’ll collect up your pets and their gear, and where you’ll go, if you have to evacuate. Remember: Not all public shelters can accept your pets—what are your alternatives? The CDC’s pets and disaster website lists some options for help in finding pet-friendly accommodations.
Next, assemble your pets’ emergency kits. Yes, really. You need to have a go-bag ready; so too should your pets. The CDC has some great ideas about what to include.
Pet Emergency Kit
Documents (photocopies and/or digital versions)
Essential veterinary documents—rabies certificates; vaccination records, prescriptions for medications; for dogs, the most recent heartworm test results.
Ownership-related items—registration/proof of ownership records; license and microchip numbers; pet description (breed, sex, color, size); a recent photo—preferably one with you and your pet together; and your contact info.
Food, water, medications
Food/water—Two-week supply for each pet.
Dishes—preferably non-spill ones, with separate dishes for food and water.
Manual can opener (if food is canned)—there may be no power for a while.
Feeding instructions—for each animal.
Medications—a two-week supply of each animal’s medications—both prescription and over-the-counter—and medication instructions. Flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives: pack one dose per pet.
The basics—a leash, and a collar or harness with each pet’s ID.
For cats—Litter and a litter box.
Toys and special treats—your pets may need those familiar, “special somethings” more than ever.
Pet carrier—with bedding, blanket, or towel.
Pet first aid—book and first aid kit. The Red Cross has a nifty First Aid for Pets app that might come in handy—but not if you can’t charge your phone or tablet.
Cleaning supplies so you can tidy up after any accidents.
Find out more at: cdc.gov/features/petsanddisasters or ready.gov/animals.
Marj Shannon is an observational epidemiologist and wordsmith who has devoted her life to minutiae. She reports that yes, the devils are in the details. But claims she’s seen a few gods there, too.