MTPC/Fenway Report Finds Transgender-Related Discrimination Harms Health

Project VOICE Report

Project VOICE Report

Nearly two-thirds of transgender Massachusetts residents have experienced discrimination in a public accommodation setting in the past 12 months and those experiencing this discrimination were nearly twice as likely to report adverse physical and mental health outcomes, according to a study released today by The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) and The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health.

The Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act, passed in 2011 and implemented in 2012, does not cover public accommodations. Public accommodations include “any place that is open to the public and provides good or services” such as hotels, restaurants, public parks, buses, trains, theatres, hospitals and health care centers.

In 2013, MTPC and Fenway’s LifeSkills Team launched a community-based statewide stress and health needs assessment called Project VOICE (Voicing Our Individual andCommunity Experiences). The team surveyed 452 Massachusetts residents to evaluate the needs of the community in all areas of public accommodations and health. The questions assessed multiple aspects of transgender-related discrimination in public accommodation settings including actions such as unfair treatment, denial of service based on gender identity or appearance, aggressive language, and physical threats.

“The initial findings of Project VOICE may be startling to those unaware of the persistent and ongoing discrimination faced by transgender and gender nonconforming people. Unfortunately, those of us who work with gender minority communities know that mistreatment is all too common. In addition to being a matter of social justice, protecting gender minority communities from mistreatment is a matter of public health. Discrimination is detrimental to the health and wellbeing of our community,” said Dr. Sari Reisner, ScD, transgender health researcher and LifeSkills Investigator at Fenway.

Some of the key findings:

  • Overall, 65% of respondents reported discrimination in one or more public accommodations settings in the past 12 months.
  • The five most prevalent discrimination settings were transportation (36%), retail (28%), restaurant (26%), public gathering (25%), and health care facility/service (24%).
  • Those who reported public accommodation discrimination in the past 12 months had an 84% increased risk of adverse physical symptoms (such as headache, upset stomach, tensing of muscles, or pounding heart) in the past 30 days and 99% increased risk of emotional symptoms (including feeling emotionally upset, sad, or frustrated) in the past 30 days.
  • 28% of respondents reported that they had not seen a doctor in the past year.
  • 29% reported having to teach their health care provider about transgender health issues in the past year.

Passage of the Equal Access Bill, currently before the Mass. Legislature, would provide improved access to public accommodations, hopefully leading to better health outcomes. Additionally, training health care providers in transgender and gender-affirmative care and working with employers to update non-discriminations policies to include gender identity and provide sensitive, competent training on how to respectfully interact with transgender co-workers and customers would help address some of these issues.

Project VOICE was generously funded by the Frieda L. Miller Foundation and The Fenway Institute.

Download a copy of the report here.

The Fenway Institute is continuing its work with the transgender community through ongoing community-based participatory research with transgender, lesbian, bisexual, gay, queer, and questioning youth of color, which aims to understand risk and resilience factors among these communities to inform a positive youth development intervention created by and for LGBTQ youth of color. For more information about this project, please visit www.fenwayhealth.org/ourhealthmatters or contact Johannes Wilson at jwilson@fenwayhealth.org.

Founded in 2001, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is a 501(c)(3) organization that works to end discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. MTPC educates the public; advocates with state, local and federal government; engages in political activism; and encourages empowerment of community members through collective action.

For more than forty years, Fenway Health has been working to make life healthier for the people in our neighborhood, the LGBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS and the broader population.  The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health is an interdisciplinary center for research, training, education and policy development focusing on national and international health issues. Fenway’s Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center cares for youth and young adults ages 12 to 29 who may not feel comfortable going anywhere else, including those who are LGBT or just figuring things out; homeless; struggling with substance use; or living with HIV/AIDS.  In 2013, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts joined the Fenway Health family, allowing both organizations to improve delivery of care and services across the state and beyond.

 Some of the News Coverage:

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MTPC Announces New Steering Committee Chair, Maxwell Ng

Press Release: July 17, 2014

Contact: Mason J. Dunn, Executive Director 617-755-7852 MasonDunn@masstpc.org

BOSTON, MA – The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) today announced the election of Maxwell Ng as the new Steering Committee Chair.

Maxwell Ng, MTPC Steering Committee Chair

Maxwell Ng is a graduate of Boston University, and has lived in the area for almost 20 years.  Besides his work with MTPC, he also serves on the Steering Committee for QAPA (Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance), and is a founding member of the Trailblazers, the Boston based softball team for trans and gender variant people.  He is passionate about visibility for Queer Asians, and strives to bring the complex issues that impact our enriched and intersecting communities to the forefront.

Nancy Nangeroni, MTPC’s out-going Steering Committee Chair, remains on the steering committee, serving as Chair Emeritus. “I’m pleased and honored to remain a part of this important and effective organization,” said Nangeroni, “and I’m excited to see Maxwell take on this new role which truly reflects the energy he is already bringing to MTPC.”

“I’m humbled to serve as Chair of the MTPC Steering Committee,” said Ng. “The work that this organization does has been empowering and challenging, and I am excited to further serve in this capacity.”

Prior to this position, Ng served as the Vice-Chair of the Steering Committee. He has been involved in the Fundraising, and Events sub committees as well as previously the Kaleidoscope group.

Founded in 2001, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) works to end discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. MTPC educates the public; advocates with state, local, and federal government; engages in activism; and encourages empowerment of community members through collective action. MTPC is a member of the Trans Advocacy Network, the Equality Federation, and the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Coalition.

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Trans Medical Needs to be Covered by MassHealth

On Friday, June 20, as reported by the Boston Globe, the MA State Division of Insurance issued  a bulletin stating that “denying medically necessary treatment based on an individual’s gender identity or gender dysphoria is prohibited sex discrimination under Massachusetts law.”  This follows a similar declaration by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

This means that any person seeking gender-related, medically necessary care cannot legally be denied such care under MassHealth.   Download the full text of the official bulletin.

While this does not yet mean that individuals will get similar coverage under other insurance plans, it does move us all a step closer to the day when all insurance plans can be expected to provide such coverage.

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Governor Announces Changes in Health Insurance Access for Transgender Community

[MassEquality Press Release]
BOSTON ─ June 20 ─ Today, Governor Patrick announced several new changes providing non-discrimination protections for those seeking gender therapy services.

MassHealth, the state-subsidized health insurance provider, will soon cover gender affirmation surgery and other treatment for gender dysphoria.  Additionally, the MA Department of Insurance (DOI) issued regulatory guidance advising health insurers that they may not discriminate on the basis of gender identity in denial of services. The administration also shared that they would be encouraging the Group Insurance Commission to take similar steps in ensuring equal access to gender therapy services.

“This is a monumental step forward for the LGBT community in the Commonwealth. We applaud Governor Patrick’s leadership in ensuring that transgender people receive the medically-necessary services they need to lead healthy, productive lives.  We look forward to working with the administration on the implementation of these changes,” said MassEquality Executive Director Kara Coredini.

“Governor Patrick has once again illustrated his forward-looking and compassionate leadership in implementing these policies. As transgender rights become more visible across this country, Massachusetts will continue its tradition of being the beacon of light that so many other states can look to for guidance on equality,” said Mason Dunn, executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.

Following on the heels of the Boston City Council’s recent unanimous decision on June 11 to not contract with any health insurer that does not provide gender therapy services, the Commonwealth’s decision will have an even broader impact, allowing transgender people across the state to access mental health care, hormone therapy, and other transition-related care.

Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director of Health Care For All, states, “This is an immensely important step forward in ensuring that health coverage meets an individual’s full range of health care needs. We commend the Administration for again putting Massachusetts in the vanguard among states as a leader in health equity for everyone, and providing a model other states can use to improve access to care for all residents.”

Massachusetts will be the sixth state to enact non-discrimination policies regarding gender transition-related care. Washington, Oregon, Connecticut, Vermont and California have amended their state policies regarding health insurance provision for gender therapy services.

“As a national organization that advocates for LGBT health equity across the country, we are proud our home state of Massachusetts is leading the way in ensuring everyone has access to the health care services they need. This victory would not have been possible without strong advocacy at the state level and the committed partners working to secure these new benefits for transgender people,” said Susan Sherry, deputy director of Community Catalyst.

Contact: Michael Givens
Communications Manager, MassEquality
857-244-0218 (m)
617-878-2316 (o)
mike@massequality.org
Twitter: @massequality
Facebook: facebook.com/MassEquality

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#WeAreMTPC

“MTPC isn’t about one person, or even one type of person … it’s about the trans community, and about people who support the basic notion that no one should face discrimination or mistreatment on the basis of their gender identity or expression.” – Maxwell Ng, MTPC Steering Committee Vice-Chair

With that in mind, Maxwell and the MTPC team debuted new MTPC buttons and a social media campaign this weekend at Boston Pride: #WeAreMTPC. We took dozens of photos with MTPC community members, allies, families, friends, and even pets, all featuring the phrase “We Are MTPC.” You can view all the photos on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

#WeAreMTPC

#WeAreMTPC Buttons

Do you want to participate? You can contact MTPC about buying a “We Are MTPC” button pack of 2 buttons for $3. Each pack comes with a button that says “We Are Trans: We Are MTPC” and one other button (either “We Are Allies” or “We Are Parents”). Better yet, get both packs!

This weekend, we’ll be at North Shore Pride taking more #WeAreMTPC photos. Can’t make it? You can take your own photo and send it to us! Click here to print out a #WeAreMTPC sign, fill it in, and post it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and/or Tumblr! Don’t forget to tag your photo with #WeAreMTPC!  Don’t live on the North Shore?  We’ll be coming to your community this summer. Check back with us about events in Springfield, Lowell, Worcestor, Brockton, and Amherst.

We are all a part of MTPC – as trans people, allies, parents, and beyond! Join the movement! Tell everyone #WeAreMTPC!

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Boston City Council Votes Unanimously in Support of Gender Therapy Access Ordinance for Transgender Municipal Workers

[MassEquality press release]

BOSTON ─ June 11 ─ Today, the Boston City Council, by a unanimous vote, passed an ordinance ensuring that the City does not contract with any health insurance provider that does not provide comprehensive coverage for gender therapy services, including mental health care, hormone therapy, and other transition-related care for transgender City employees.

“This is a modest proposal that will have a profound impact on the lives of transgender municipal workers,” said Kara Coredini, executive director of MassEquality. “We applaud Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Michelle Wu for introducing the ordinance and the Council members who co-sponsored it and voted to pass it. Their action today is an important next step in Boston’s continuing leadership on transgender equality, and we hope that the state will soon follow Boston’s lead as it has so many times on issues of LGBTQ equality.”

Introduced by City Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Michelle Wu in mid-April, the ordinance received the support of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and the city’s Public Employees Committee, which recently voted to ensure that the city’s insurance plans to accommodate increased access to gender therapy services for Boston employees. Though the ordinance passed unanimously, this is a very small step in ensuring that all transgender people in the state are provided comprehensive insurance coverage. Currently, there are 17,000 Boston municipal workers whose insurance coverage will be impacted by this change.

“I am thrilled that the City of Boston is setting the standard for an inclusive workplace with policies to attract the most talented and committed employees,” said Wu.  “Inclusive health care coverage is the right thing to do for our employees and their families, and the best economic policy. I am proud that my colleagues on the Council and our Mayor support this important ordinance so strongly, and so grateful to MassEquality and the many partner organizations who testified in support. I am honored to be a part of this step towards ensuring Boston remains the best place to live, work and play.”

The language of the ordinance prevents the City from contracting with health insurers who refuse to provide coverage for transition-related care. One insurer, Neighborhood Health Plan, did not have a rider in its coverage for transition-related care, but will add one to its coverage that allows for gender therapy services. The other plans already covered these services for municipal employees.

“I thank MassEquality for being a leader and a partner in the ongoing fight for justice for our trans neighbors,” Boston City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley said. “Access to quality health care is a civil rights issue. This ordinance will dramatically improve the lives of our City’s trans employees and their families; restoring their dignity and alleviating the cost of medically necessary care.”

According to research done by the Center for American Progress, the cost of providing healthcare coverage for transgender municipal workers is expected to be negligible. Studies have shown that the more than 200 private companies across the country that provide coverage for gender therapy services reported insignificant changes in healthcare costs.

“We are so proud to be part of a city that’s taking significant steps to remove the barriers to health care for all people,” said Susan Sherry, Deputy Director of Community Catalyst, a Boston-based national consumer health advocacy organization. “The Council’s overwhelming support for this policy change that benefits transgender employees sends a strong message to Boston and all Massachusetts residents, and promotes our city as a national leader on health equity issues.”

Washington, Oregon, Connecticut, Vermont and California have also amended their state policies to ensure that health insurers do not discriminate against transgender individuals.

Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, executive director of Health Care For All, states, “This is an important step forward in ensuring that health coverage meets an individual’s full range of health care needs. We commend the City Council for providing a model state policymakers can use to improve access to care for all residents.”

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