Gender affirmation is an umbrella term for the broad range of actions and choices involved in living, surviving, and thriving as authentic gendered individuals. According to research, it is also one of the most important factors that impact the health and well-being of trans and gender-expansive (TGE) youth. Without resources for gender affirmation, TGE youth are more likely to experience negative impacts on their mental health, such as depression or suicidality, and sexual health.
For HIV prevention researchers, this means recognizing that TGE youth need more than one-size-fits-all interventions for safer sex practices (e.g. PrEP, condom use). TGE youth need interventions tailored to their unique and complex needs, such as the need for gender-affirming resources. One solution is a “gender-affirming” approach to healthcare that recognizes and supports TGE people being their authentic selves. Here’s a simple breakdown of some of the different aspects of gender affirmation:
- Social Affirmation describes how a person presents themselves to the world around them, including using correct names and pronouns, wearing new wardrobes, or participating in sports/work as one’s authentic selves.
- Psychological Affirmation describes more internal experiences such as feeling respected or internalized transphobia.
- Medical Affirmation describes types of affirmation done with the guidance of a health professional, including taking hormones or having affirmative surgeries.
- Legal Affirmation describes actions within the legal and legislative system, including updating name/gender on IDs, rights in work or school settings, and navigating police, prison, and other government systems.
With the recent explosion of mobile apps for different health needs, HIV researchers are interested in joining in to develop mobile health (mHealth) interventions that bring evidence-based sexual health resources right to people’s phones. Researchers reviewed over two dozen existing apps for TGE individuals to examine the features of existing apps and improve future mHealth interventions.
Below is a shortlist of just some of the apps researchers found that you can download today.
1. Solace LGBT
Solace is a free mobile app to help individuals plan and carry out the affirmation process. According to their website, users are able to access a library of over 700 actions and goals to customize their affirmation journey. Examples of actions or goals include updating their name or gender on their legal IDs, coming out to friends and family, tracking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or simply getting a new wardrobe.
In addition, Solace provides users with a broad range of credible, educational resources for how to accomplish their legal, medical, and lifestyle goals or stay up to date with news impacting TGE communities.
Solace is part of a larger company named Euphoria which also makes trans-specific apps Bliss. Clarity, & Windfall. Bliss, an app to help individuals create a financial plan for their transition process. At the time this article was written, the websites for Clarity and Windfall are no longer available.
They2ze is a free app designed to connect users to inclusive health services, education, and peer support for TGE youth. The app offers an extensive database of community vetted health and life resources based on need (i.e., financial support, employment services, HIV care, support groups, etc). Examples of educational resources include trans-specific PrEP self-assessments, education, and linkage to local services.
In addition, They2ze provides several images, videos, and other resources designed to share with those around them, such as parents/guardians or peers. Users can also submit new resources and provide community feedback based on personal experiences.
They2ze was developed as a result of a tech-oriented initiative by ETR, a non-profit dedicated to health equity for youth.
They2ze is only available for Android.
3. Christella VoiceUp
Christella VoiceUp is a vocal training app designed for trans feminine individuals seeking to start voice feminization. Designed in collaboration with UK speech and language therapist Christella Antoni, VoiceUp offers 3 courses to teach users how to change different elements of their voice, such as pitch. The app also has a voice analysis feature for users to track their progress over time.
The app offers a free sample lesson and voice analysis but users have to pay to access each course.
VoiceUp was created by SpeehTools, a developer of other speech and language therapy apps
EVA, short for Exceptional Voice app, is another vocal training app designed for TGE individuals. Similar to voice up, EVA offers step-by-step lessons that provide a combination of video-based content and self-guided exercises using a real-time voice analysis tool.
For individuals seeking vocal feminization, the EvaF app offers a free lesson and voice analysis to test out the app’s coaching style. Currently, users can pay to access 3 voice training programs, each consisting of between 10 to 20 lessons. For those seeking vocal masculinization, EvaM only offers a voice analysis. Currently, EvaM offers 1 training program of 10 lessons.
EVA was developed by speech pathologist Kethe Perez who specializes in voice training for TGE individuals.
PatchDay is a streamlined app to plan out and keep track of HRT medication schedules. Users can customize schedules according to the type of medication (i.e., injection, patches, transdermal patches), delivery method (i.e., glute, abdomen), dose timing, and quantity. To protect privacy, users do not need to make an account linked to an email address.
This app was independently developed by Juliya Smith, a trans software engineer who uses estradiol patches. Additional support for the app is available here.
PatchDay is available for Apple iOS only.
ShotTraX is another free app to help TGE individuals manage HRT medication schedules. Similar to PatchDay, this app offers users the ability to customize medication schedules to fit with their HRT regiment.
However, ShotTraX is unique in that it describes itself as a semi-social app. Users can share their shot dates and chat directly with friends in the app. To protect their privacy, users don’t need to make an account to use the app and can even set a stealth mode for safety and security.
This app was developed by two trans software engineers that engage users via Instagram @shottrax.
TransMemo is another option for users looking for a free app to help manage HRT medication schedules. The app offers users tools similar to other HRT tracking apps such as tracking different types of medication, customizing medication dosage and frequency, and reminder notification. One unique feature of TransMemo is that users can track how much medication is left to avoid mistakingly running out of medication between refills.
Trans Memo was developed by Chrysalide, a French trans advocacy organization.
Trans Memo is available for Android only.
TransTracks is an app that offers a unique way to support the affirmation process of TGE individuals. The app aims to help users keep track of the details and progress of their affirmation. Using a simple interface, users can upload photos and create personalized milestones to record their transition journey.
TransTracks also has several features to protect users’ privacy. Users can not only set a password for the app but turn on its “Train Tracks” lock mode to make it look like a boring train transportation app (see image on right).
This app was created by an anonymous developer as a passion project.
9. Kegal Nation
Kegel Nation is a free app to help trans-masculine and trans-feminine individuals recover from gender-affirming genital reconstructive surgery. With the guidance of a healthcare professional, users can access a variety of features that fit their surgical procedures such as the tracking of pelvic floor exercises, urination, and douching.
The app was originally developed by UCSF urologists Dr. Maurice Garcia and Peter Carroll to support a variety of patient populations, such as individuals after childbirth or prostate cancer surgery.
Kegel Nation is only available on Apple iOS.
10. Binder Reminder
Binder Reminder is an app to support trans men and other gender-nonconforming individuals who wear bind their chest. This app aims to help users wear their chest binders as less as possible to avoid the risk of injury associated with wearing a chest binder for long periods of time. Users can set time and location-based notifications to remind them to remove their binder and perform simple stretching exercises.
The app was developed by an anonymous creator.
Binder Reminder is only available on Android.
11. Refuge Restrooms
Refuge Restrooms is a simple app to help TGE individuals find, as implied by the name, a safe restroom. Users can locate nearby inclusive restrooms by using a GPS-enabled map or typing in a specific address. The app also includes convenient, crowdsourced information about the app such as whether the restroom is unisex and/or accessible. Users can add new listings directly from the app too.
This app was made to accompany the original web application created by a trans-led team of developers.
12. Safe Transgender Bathrooms App
The Safe Transgender Bathroom App is another app to help TGE individuals find public restrooms that are safe. Using either the user’s GPS location or a specified address, users can locate nearby restrooms and read more information about the restroom, such as gender designation, the number of toilets, and community ratings. In addition to being able to add new locations, users can also like or dislike a restroom and report any problems with a restroom.
Like many of the other apps here, the Safe Transgender Bathroom App was created by anonymous developers with the interest of TGE communities in mind.
This app is only available on Apple iOS.
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