Transphobia in Healthcare: Unhealthy, Unsafe, and Unacceptable

This week we’re witnessing new attacks on the health and wellness of trans and gender nonconforming people. Nationally, the Trump administration has created a new division under the HHS civil rights office geared towards allowing and promoting discrimination against LGBTQ people in healthcare. Under the misleading name of “conscience and religious freedom,” this division will open the door for healthcare providers to deny care to anyone they may disapprove of, including denying care to trans and gender nonconforming people. We all value and enjoy religious freedom as established in the Constitution of the United States; this policy, however, is more concerned with denying health care to marginalized communities than the exercise of faith.

Here in Massachusetts, we have recently learned that the Group Insurance  Commission – the state agency which provides healthcare coverage for Massachusetts state employees – is making changes to the plans available to employees. Under these changes, former plans, which provided coverage for transition related medical care, have been eliminated. The new plans to be offered by GIC have little to no coverage for transition related healthcare for trans and gender nonconforming state employees. This is a major problem, impacting the health and wellness of many members of our community. MTPC is currently making plans to attend upcoming public hearings on the issue, to ensure our voices are heard by the state.

Trans and gender nonconforming people already face disproportionate levels of discrimination, harassment, and denial in healthcare – and these new developments will likely raise those rates in alarming ways. The Mass Trans Political Coalition is here to send the message to policy makers and healthcare providers: transphobia in healthcare is unhealthy, unsafe, and unacceptable.

For more information, questions, or ways to get involved, contact Mason: MasonDunn@masstpc.org

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In Memory: Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien

We at MTPC are mourning the loss of community advocate, activist and friend, Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien. Christa was a wonderful person, who had a profound impact on the trans and gender nonconforming community, particularly in Western Massachusetts. She was the creator and founder of the Miss Trans New England Pageant, and would go on to found Miss Trans America. She was a well known and positive influence for many trans people locally and nationally.

At this time, her death has been ruled a homicide, underscoring the continued prevalence of violence against trans and gender nonconforming people, particularly trans women. Additionally, domestic violence and partner abuse may have been a factor in her murder; factors which disproportionately impact trans people across the country. Christa’s death is a sad reminder how much violence and abuse transgender people face every day.

The Mass Trans Political Coalition would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Christa’s friends and family. We are working to assist in planning a community gathering and memorial in her memory. We will follow up when more information and details are available.

If you, or someone you know is struggling with depression, violence, discrimination, or partner abuse, please reach out to local or community resources. Groups such as The Network La Red (tnlr.org), Samaratins (https://samaritanshope.org/), Safe Passage (http://safepass.org/) and others, are available to provide assistance and resources.

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Snapshots in Time: A Personal Story

Guest post from Michelle Tat, MTPC’s Clerk:

Content Warning: This is not about data science. This is a long post that’s mostly a stream of consciousness. You have been warned!

Happy New Years everyone. It’s been a long time since I last posted, mostly because I’ve been busy at the new job, also because I’ve taken some time off to re-balance my life a little bit. But I’m back! At least for the time being.

There’s been one thing on my mind lately that I’ve been meaning just to get on paper. And it has everything to do with my identity. In the era where trans identities are at the forefront of the LGBTQIA+ rights movement, the stories that are played in the airwaves only scratch the surface of who we are and how any of us made it to “now”. Often times, trans folx, are seen as two discrete snapshots in time. Before and After. Then and Now.

Head over to Medium, to finish reading about Michelle’s journey.

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Joint Statement in Response to White House Assault on Public Health

Boston, MA – On Friday, December 15, 2017, the Trump Administration took yet another step in their efforts to suppress the rights of transgender people and minority communities. In a report from the Washington Post, we learned that the White House has issued orders to the Centers for Disease Control, stating the CDC can no longer use the word transgender, along with six other words and phrases such as “diversity” and “evidence-based,” in budget documents. This is nothing more than a prejudiced attempt to erase lives and facts, through an attack on health policy at the national level.

“Our lives and identities will not be censored,” said Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition Executive Director Mason Dunn. “We will not be erased from the conversation. We stand together in the fight to ensure that fact and science prevails, even when those in power would deny them.”

“The federal government is improperly politicizing our public health agencies. This effort compromises the life-saving work of the CDC. It makes it even more challenging to reduce health disparities and will exacerbate negative health outcomes, particularly in vulnerable populations and marginalized communities,” said Lawyers’ Committee’s Executive Director Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal.

The banned words are:

  • Transgender;
  • Diversity;
  • Vulnerable;
  • Evidence-based;
  • Science-based;
  • Entitlement; and
  • Fetus.

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, stand firm in our resolve to fight these unprecedented attacks on our communities.

______

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition is dedicated to ending oppression and discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice fosters equal opportunity and fights discrimination on behalf of people of color and immigrants. We engage in creative and courageous legal action, education, and advocacy in collaboration with law firms and community partners.

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2017 Trans Awareness and Trans Day of Remembrance

Trans Awareness Month is in full swing. Every year we take the month of November to raise awareness, celebrate, and honor trans lives and experiences across the country.

Here in Massachusetts, the month started strong with an amazing turn out in North Andover for “Meet your Transgender Neighbor.” Over 140 people came out for a panel discussion, hosted by MTPC Steering Committee clerk Michelle Tat. Events like these are essential to raising awareness for trans lives in our communities.

This week there are dozens of events in honor of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. These events are important reminders of the violence our community faces due to anti-trans bias and discrimination. 2017 has proven to be another of the deadliest years on record for trans people. As with previous years, the intersections of racism, sexism, and transphobia are horrifically over represented in the list of those who have been taken from us. We must understand and address sexism and racism in our communities if we hope to see these numbers of deaths decrease in the future. This year we honor the lives of those who have been taken from us:

India Monroe
Murdered December 19, 2016
29 Years Old
Newport News, Virginia

Mesha Caldwell
Murdered January 4, 2017
41 Years Old
Canton, Mississippi

Sean Hake
Executed January 6, 2017
23 Years Old
Sharon, Pennsylvania

Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow
Found Murdered on January 6, 2017
28 Years Old
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

JoJo Striker
Murdered on February 8, 2017
23 Years Old
Toledo, Ohio

Jacquarrius Holland
Murdered on February 19, 2017
18 Years Old
Monroe, Louisiana

Tiara Richmond (aka Keke Collier)
Murdered on February 21, 2017
24 Years Old
Chicago, Illinois

Chyna Doll Dupree (aka Chyna Gibson)
Murdered on February 25, 2017
31 Years Old
New Orleans, Louisiana

Ciara McElveen
Murdered on February 27, 2017
25 Years Old
New Orleans, Louisiana

Alphonza Watson
Murdered on March 22, 2017
38 Years Old
Baltimore, Maryland

Kenne McFadden
Murdered on March 8, 2017
27 Years Old
San Antonio, Texas

Chay Reed
Murdered on March 21, 2017
28 Years Old
Miami, Florida

Mx. Bostick
Murdered on April 4, 2017
49 Years Old
New York CIty, New York

Sherrell Faulkner
Murdered on May 16, 2017
46 Years Old
Charlotte, North Carolina

Kendra Marie Adams (Josie Barrios)
Found Murdered on June 13, 2017
28 Years Old
Ithaca, New York

Ava Le’Ray Barrin
Murdered on June 25, 2017
17 Years Old
Athens, Georgia

Ebony Morgan
Murdered on July 2, 2017
28 Years Old
Lynchburg, Virginia

TeeTee Dangerfield
Murdered on July 31, 2017
32 Years Old
Atlanta, Georgia

Jay-Low Mcglory
Murdered on July 8,2017
29 Years Old
Alexandria, Louisiana

Gwynevere River Song
Murdered on August 8, 2017
26 Years old
Waxahachie, Texas

Kiwi Herring
Executed on August 22, 2017
30 Years Old
St. Louis, Illinois

Kashmire Nazier Redd
Murdered on September 4, 2017
28 Years Old
Gates, New York

Ally Steinfeld
Found Murdered on September 3, 2017
17 Years Old
Texas County, Missouri

Derricka Banner
Murdered on September 12, 2017
26 Years Old
Charlotte, North Carolina

Scout Schultz
Executed on September 16, 2017
21 Years Old
Atlanta, Georgia

Stephanie Montez
Murdered on October 21, 2017
47 Years Old
Corpus Christi, Texas

Candace Towns
Murdered on October 28, 2017
30 Years Old
Macon, Georgia

Rest in power.

For more information and photos of those taken from us visit: http://www.transnetworking.com/tdor2017_list/

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Military Trans Ban

[Written by Declan Nolan, MTPC Summer Intern]

On July 26th, President Trump tweeted out a ban on transgender folks serving in the U.S. Military. First of all, what does this mean? Additionally what does this mean for you as a transgender person or an ally?

At the moment, transgender already-enlisted service members can serve openly, but civilian transgender people are disqualified from serving. It is unclear what this will mean for the openly transgender people currently serving. If this series of tweets becomes a policy, the military may choose to discharge openly transgender service members.

To many people this announcement came as a shock. A common misconception is that transgender people were included in “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” but this isn’t true. The LGBT community is often talked about as a single unit which can cause confusion when differentiating between sexual orientation and gender identity. Transgender people have been able to serve openly since June 30th of last year. This policy only applies to people who are already currently serving; not new recruits.

Currently, there has been no policy memo formally articulated to the Pentagon. This means that there will be no changes made yet to the way transgender people serve in the military. This may change in the near future, but so far all is the same. There are still debates going on about transition related healthcare and if it should be covered by the health insurance provided by the military.

The idea of not allowing transgender people to serve based on their gender identity alone is blatant discrimination. Even transgender individuals who have no indication of ever serving in the military should be concerned because of the precedent this sets. So what does this mean for you as a transgender person or ally?

On order to understand this potential ban’s full effect, we should educate ourselves about the needs and experiences of transgender veterans and service members. A great resource we have found is the Transgender American Veterans Association.  They provide “unwavering support for our transgender service members and veterans past, present, and future.” We also found great information from the American Veterans for Equal Rights. Organizations like this are an important reminder to transgender veterans and service members that you are supported and cared for by your transgender community. This support comes regardless of the current or future policies put in place by the current administration.

You might be asking yourself, what can I do to help my community or the trans people in my life? There are plenty of ways to help: check out some great ones from the Advocate. If it is safe to and you are able to, get involved in some activism! If you are from Massachusetts, a wonderful campaign to get involved with is Freedom Massachusetts. They are fighting against an initiative on the statewide ballot in 2018 to repeal our state’s nondiscrimination law ensuring protection in public spaces for transgender people. They are always looking for volunteers to participate in phone banks, data entry, and in person recruitment.

To the allies of the transgender community, we need you. Keep the conversation going; educate those around you on what has happened, especially other cisgender folks in your life. Continue to learn; keep yourself educated on what this means and why it matters. Know that the fight for transgender rights cannot be won without the assistance of family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

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