What does coronavirus mean for LGBT+ people

The outbreak of coronavirus affects us all – as individuals and as a society – but it has some very particular consequences for several people in the LGBT+ community. The COVID-19 particularly affects the most vulnerable in our community; elderly persons, persons with physical disabilities and persons with a weakened immune system. At the same time, the outbreak of the virus has a social impact because it particularly affects those who are unable to stay at home or who risk losing their job as a result of the national lock-down. We encourage everyone to show solidarity and support each other during this time.

 

LGBT+ Counseling is open on chat, email and phone

In a time like this, you may need to talk to someone about the things that concern you. In LGBT+ Counseling, it is possible to have a non-committal and confidential talk with a person who has knowledge of issues related to gender identity, sexuality and sexual orientation. To reduce the spreading of coronavirus, LGBT+ Counseling is closed for physical attendance in the near future. You can still contact the counseling by mail, chat and telephone in Copenhagen and Aarhus during the usual opening hours which are Thursdays 18-20.

See email addresses and telephone numbers on the counseling page.

 

Navigating anxiety and stress

We are in the midst of a very unfamiliar and uncertain situation, which makes most people worried and insecure. Being cut off from your network and daily life can further create a sense of anxiety, loneliness and powerlessness. For people who are already suffering from stress and anxiety, the uncertainty surrounding the current situation can be extra difficult to deal with. If you or someone you know is severely affected by the situation mentally, there are a number of tips on how to help yourself and each other. For example, it may help to share your concerns with others (over the phone or on a safe distance walk), to make sure you sleep and eat enough, and to try to limit how often you read the news to just once a day.

Here are some useful resources for managing stress and anxiety associated with COVID-19:
The Psychiatric Foundation’s list of advice on anxiety for coronavirus (in Danish)
The Meg John and Justin Podcast: Stress And Coronavirus
Them.us: Don’t Go Down a Coronavirus Anxiety Spiral
Contact LGBT+ Denmark’s counseling Thursdays 18-20 on mail, chat and phone

 

Compression binders and vests and COVID-19

People who use compression binders or compression vests should take special care of themselves during this time, as COVID-19 is a respiratory infection affecting the lungs. As much as possible, try to be aware of how many hours a day you wear a binder or vest. If you experience symptoms such as coughing or breathing problems, we encourage you to contact your doctor and explain that you use a compression binder or compression vest. The general recommendation is to avoid binding if you are sick as this can lead to fluid build-up in the lungs. If this is not an option, then consider whether you can take it off some of the time or whether you have a used binder, a tight-fitting sports top or a tight t-shirt that you can wear under your clothes instead. Be sure to breathe fully into your lungs and do stretching exercises when you take off your binder or vest.
Also read Point of Pride 8 tips for looking after yourself and your respiratory system if using binders.

 

Seeking medical attention

We know that many LGBT+ people find it difficult to go to the doctor, either because they fear or have experienced discrimination and prejudice from their physician and healthcare professionals. It is for this very reason that it is important that we support each other in seeking medical attention if someone is experiencing severe symptoms. Fortunately, there has recently been more focus on how it can be made safer for LGBT+ people to go to the doctor. In LGBT+ Denmark, we are currently working on a campaign aimed at both general practitioners and the LGBT+ community. Should you experience discrimination from your doctor, you are welcome to contact LGBT+ Denmark.
See the guide at sundhed.dk for how you as a LGBT+ person can use your doctor (in Danish)

 

QueerCare – support for vulnerable LGBTQIA people in Copenhagen

On Facebook, a group has been set up to help LGBTQIA people who need extra help or support during the coronavirus outbreak. If you want to volunteer, you can join the group. If you need help or support, fill out this form and then QueerCare will write to the members of the Facebook group and find someone nearby who is able to help.

If you live outside Copenhagen, Red Cross has also set up a national corona relief network where you can seek or offer help in connection with the corona outbreak.

Read more in the Facebook group QueerCare Cph
Read more about the Red Cross relief network (in Danish)

 

Safe(r) sex practises and Covid-19 

At the moment, no scientific studies about Covid-19, sexual interaction, and risk of infection have been made. However, what we do know is that the virus can be transferred via drops of saliva, through exhalation. Therefore, the risk of infection by close physical contact should be considered before engaging in sexual interaction.  

Right now, we do not know if Covid-19 spreads directly through semen or other types of body secretion, or if the virus acts similarly to other viruses and may infect people through other mucosa membranes, such as the ones in the anus or vagina. However, research have shown that the virus can be transferred when people come into contact with microorganisms that can be found in faeces. This may happen when people partake in oral stimulation, such as rimming/annilingus. Furthermore, the virus may also be transferred when an infected object or surface i.e. one or more people’s fingers, penis(es) and/or sex toys gets into contact with the mouth, nose or eyes.  

Therefore, the safest way to avoid transferring the virus through sexual activities is to only engage in solo sex or non-physical sex, such as sex through pictures, phone or video chat and/or conversations. However, if you live with your sexual partner(s) choosing not to have sex in order to limit the risk of infection through sexual activities makes little difference, seeing as you may contract Covid-19 by simply living in close proximity.  

For more info on safer sex read the article Safer Sex and Covid-19 by Justin Hancock at BISH 

 

Checkpoint closes for physical tests

Checkpoint is closed for all personal consultations. This means that testing and counseling will be completely closed until the 30th of March. Therefore, HIV, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea tests cannot be done during this period. All booked times are canceled, and all meetings and group activities canceled. At the same time, the opening hours of the hotline will be extended, so that professional counsellors are now ready to take your call at +45 33 91 11 19 every weekday between 10 and 18. You can also write to raadgivning@aidsfondet.dk.
Read more on the Aids Foundation’s website (in Danish)

 

Covid-19 and assisted reproduction treatment 

During the Covid-19 outbreak, most clinics advise the persons and couples who are in the process getting assisted reproduction to contact them directly, in order to receive specific guidelines and recommendations. Most of the fertility clinics in Denmark have decided not to accept any new clients temporarily, but people who are already receiving treatment will most likely be able to continue their program. However, most of the clinics have added a series of restrictions and guidelines on who may show up at the clinic, during active treatment programs, in order to limit the risk of infection. Therefore, if you are receiving treatment, contact your clinic directly for more information.  

 

Access to hormones and gender-affirming surgeries

According to the Center for Gender Identity in Copenhagen and Aalborg, all in person consultations at the centers have been canceled. However, all treatment centers encourage users to check their e-boks regularly if they have an appointment in the near future.

Consultations in Aalborg
On March 17, 2020, practitioners in Aalborg announced that they will continue to have video consultations with users who are already undergoing examination and treatment (related to hormones and preparation for surgery). Therefore, they encourage all users who have an appointment within the next couple of weeks to keep an eye on their e-boks as well as phone calls from “hidden number”, as this could be calls from the center. However, last-minute changes and cancellations of consultations may occur as staff may be assigned to another service at the hospital. Also, the secretaries inform that you will continue to be able to get hold of them at telephone number: +45 97 66 04 43 between 8.30-11.45 on all week days. Therefore, all users who have a prescription for hormone medication (Tostran 2% and estrogen medication) that can be purchased in Danish pharmacies should continue to be able to buy their medication and get renewed prescriptions. Unfortunately, users who are still waiting to get started with the assessment process will have to wait a little longer, as the centers will not initiate new processes in the coming time.

Consultations in Copenhagen
The current announcement from the Center for Gender Identity in Copenhagen states that unfortunately all patient consultations in CKI have been canceled. This will initially apply until 31 March 2020. Users who have an appointment during this period will therefore either be called or receive a message in their e-boks, informing them of their new consultation time. If you have any questions, the secretariat can be contacted on +45 35 45 40 05 between 9.00-12.00 on all week days.

Nebido injections
Right now, there is no set guideline for general practice or for other healthcare professionals regarding Nebido injections. Therefore, we encourage anyone who may use Nebido (or other intramuscular testosterone preparations) to contact their doctor’s office and hear about their options. Here, the assessment will often depend on whether the doctors’ office consider the Nebido injections as being “essential” or “non-essential” in relation to the amount of patients they receive. If your doctor’s office is very pressured, you are welcome to contact LGBT+ Denmark if you would like advice on what other options you have. If you are near Copenhagen, you can also seek help in the Facebook group QueerCare Cph, where several people would like to help. Either by administering your dose or by guiding you online so you learn how to do it yourself.

Gender affirming surgery
According to a memo from the Danish Health Authority, patients whose illnesses are not acute and life-threatening will not be operated on in the near future. An indicative list issued by the Danish Health Authority states that gender-affirming surgery “can be postponed” and these will therefore not be carried out. However, patients whose surgery was canceled should be notified of their new appointment by July 1, 2020 at the latest.