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Access to Voice and Communication Services for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color Open Access

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The standards and evidence of effectiveness for SLP services related to gender presentation have proliferated in recent years (Davies, Papp, & Antoni, 2015), yet most Transgender (trans) and gender non-conforming (GNC) people do not engage in such services. Consistent evidence of diminished access to overall healthcare for trans and GNC individuals has been reported, with access particularly diminished for people of color (Edelman, et al 2015, Xavier, Bobbin, Singer, & Budd, 2005). Indeed, an over-representation of White people exists in the aforementioned empirical evidence used to guide SLP services. Thus, two systematically organized focus groups (n=11) comprised of people of color (Black, Asian, Hispanic, & Multiracial) from the trans and GNC community (trans, non-binary, & queer) were convened to 1) discuss goals related to gender transition/presentation and barriers to those goals, and 2) evaluate a survey intended for national distribution. Follow-up phone interviews allowed for clarification/elaboration of responses. Thematic analysis of focus group transcripts demonstrated that lack of information about SLP services is a fundamental barrier to engaging in voice care, so much so that later barriers (availability, cost) were hardly discussed. Participants deemed a future survey regarding potential barriers to services for this population to be tactful and have face validity, but discussion suggested the survey inquire about effective/preferred terminology for and descriptions of SLP services. If future survey results are consistent with this small sample, interventions might begin with educational campaigns about the potential outcomes of voice and communication training, while also exploring effective terminology and descriptions of SLP services.

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