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This week, hospitals and health care centers will begin scheduling non-emergency procedures and appointments that were postponed to allow the health care system to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For many transgender and nonbinary people, the cancellation of long-planned gender-affirming procedures or appointments has been devastating. Our communities experience higher rates of anxiety and depression than our cisgender peers, and that was before this pandemic. We are also five times more likely to be living with HIV compared with the general population. Forgoing gender-affirming care and routine appointments over the last two months may have exacerbated any anxiety or depression we were dealing with. And our chronic health conditions may have worsened.
So now is the time to reschedule those visits. You may still be worried about exposing yourself to the coronavirus by visiting a hospital or health care center. You’re not alone. Fear of exposure has become so widespread that Gov. Charlie Baker and the leaders of three hospitals in the Greater Boston area spent time during Baker’s April 23 press briefing reassuring the public that it was safe to seek care for urgent conditions.
“We’re decontaminating our surfaces, we’re practicing social distancing, we’re using masks and we’re doing everything we can to keep you safe,” Dr. Michael Apkon, president and CEO of Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children. “If you are ill,” please call your physician to seek care.”
All three health care leaders said that urgent care visits had dropped by over 50 percent and gave disturbing examples of the lengths to which people were avoiding treatment for emergency conditions: a child with a ruptured appendix after toughing out several days of abdominal pain, patients with diabetes needing limb amputation because of untreated leg ulcers, stroke victims not coming in until they were long past the point at which physical damage could be mitigated, and increased cases of advanced cardiac and gastrointestinal disease.
We know that trans adults are more likely to rate our health as poor or fair compared with the general population and more than one in five of us has at least one or more chronic conditions like diabetes, arthritis, or asthma.
As trans people, we must always be vigilant about our mental and physical health. But it’s especially important now, when we know that a compromised immune system and pre-existing health conditions may put us at greater risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19 infection.
So, if you’ve been putting it off, now is the time to call your doctor. We get that it’s sometimes easier said than done. Even in the best of times, many trans and nonbinary people avoid medical care altogether due to stigma and fear of discrimination. But know this: discrimination against transgender people in the MA health care system is unlawful. You have rights. If you have concerns about any mistreatment that you experience during this public health emergency, please reach out to us at the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) or contact GLADAnswers.org, the legal information service at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD).
But don’t put off getting the care you need. In the meantime, the best way to ensure your continued health during the pandemic is to practice safety measures and good hygiene. If you must go out, per the governor’s order you are required to wear a face mask. Keep a safe distance from others—at least six feet. Wash your hands thoroughly (scrub for at least 20 seconds) or use hand sanitizer if you have been in public and touched an item or surface that is frequently touched by others—door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, touchscreens, etc. Keep your hands away from your face, as germs enter our bodies through our mouth, nose and eyes.
And stay connected. It’s a difficult and scary time for everyone. We need each other. Keep in contact with loved ones and support networks via telephone, email, text, Zoom, etc. No matter your age, if you are feeling isolated there are options for you to seek and receive virtual support from within the LGBTQ and trans and nonbinary communities.
Fenway Health and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) are each maintaining helpful lists of information and resources to help you stay safe(r) and healthy during the pandemic. Here are some resources specifically for our elders,
Check out the MA Trans Health Coalition’s Guiding Principles for Gender-Affirming Care During COVID-19 and the Validation Station, a new free service that sends validating and affirming daily text messages to transgender and nonbinary people during this crisis.
MTPC Signs on to Open Letter to Human Rights Campaign: Trans people don’t need HRC to save us – we need HRC to back us
“After reading the article in Out Magazine, a few trans leaders, including representatives from the Transgender Law Center, Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project, Transgender Legal Defense, and Education Fund and The TransLatin@ Coalition, gathered to discuss our concerns. We made the difficult decision to draft this open letter because trans people have worked hard to build an infrastructure to support our movement, and we saw that work being dangerously invisibilized in the way HRC composed its plan and rolled out the announcement. For the biggest LGBT organization in the world to ignore hard-won existing trans movement infrastructure and leadership – and claim to speak for us – threatens our ability to maintain a strong trans-led movement for liberation. Under Alphonso David’s leadership, we see a new willingness from HRC to prioritize trans people of color. Our letter is an invitation for HRC to do so in partnership with us – rather than for us.”
MTPC is proud to join with our fellow trans-focused and trans-led organizations in sending HRC this message.
A bill pending in the State Legislature (H.3664/S.2203) would allow residents to choose a non-binary ‘X’ gender marker on driver’s licenses, birth certificates or other state-issued ID. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for Tuesday Sept. 10th at 10:30am in Gardner Auditorium at the Statehouse.
Many thanks to all the volunteers and advocates who pressed for this hearing! There is a short turn around for the hearing, so Here’s what you can do now:
- Submit testimony: Write a short statement about why you support Massachusetts residents having the option to designate ‘X’ on their IDs rather than ‘Male’ or ‘Female’. Send that to Tre’Andre Valentine at TreAndreValentine@masstpc.
org or by snail mail to: MTPC, PO Box 960784, Boston, MA 02196. MTPC will submit a packet of testimonials to the joint committee at the hearing. Please make sure your testimony is in by Monday Sept. 9th by 9pm.
- Attend the hearing simply to be counted among those who care about this issue. We need people to show up.
- Present oral testimony: Sign up to testify for up to 3 minutes by contacting Rep. Domb’s office at: Mindy.Domb@mahouse.gov or (617) 722-2400 or simply show up to the hearing, sign-in and register the day of
- Contact members of the Joint Committee for State Administration and Regulatory Oversight encouraging them to report the bill favorably out of committee. Joint committees have both senators and representatives, but the priority now is to contact the Representatives on the committee.
Five and a half years. I can’t believe it’s been over five and a half years since I started at the Mass Trans Political Coalition. This organization has been a huge part of my life and my world for the duration of my time here, and now, in my last week, there are so many things I want to say.
The time I’ve spent with MTPC has been a gift that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. It has been an honor to do this work – even when the work was difficult, it was a gift. I’ve learned so much about this community, the work, and myself, that I never could have imagined going into this experience. I’ve been a student more than a teacher in my time here, learning from so many amazing leaders and community members. The lessons I’ve learned, and will continue to learn, are lessons I hope to share long after I’ve left MTPC.
My primary emotion at this moment is gratitude. From volunteers and interns, to Steering Committee members and chairs, every person I’ve come into contact with over my time at MTPC has had a profound impact on me. Many of you are like family to me now, and I can’t imagine my life without your influence and presence.
This departure, and subsequently this new chapter for MTPC, is so amazingly organic and natural. It’s the right time for me and more importantly for the trans rights movement in Massachusetts. We’ve had some fantastic wins, but our work for trans rights and equity remains unfinished. The next chapter for MTPC needs a new voice, and therefore, a new leader. I leave knowing I did exactly what I was hired to do, and knowing that the next Executive Director will have a wholly different job from the one I’m leaving.
I’m eternally grateful to Ev Evnen, MTPC’s incoming interim director, who is a brilliant and capable leader. Together with Kelsey, they will keep the ship on course while the Steering Committee, led by Michelle and Kaden, begins the exciting work of searching for the next Executive Director. And who will be the next leader here at MTPC? Well it might be you. It might be someone new to this work or Massachusetts. It might be a well known local advocate or activist in our community. Whoever it is, I hope we will all welcome them with open hearts and open arms. This work isn’t easy, but it’s possible because of the support we have from our communities.
I’m excited to embark on my own new adventure, as Director of Advocacy at Keshet. This will be an opportunity for me to bring together several critical aspects of my identity, as a Trans Queer Jew, into my work as an advocate. Together with the amazing folks at Keshet, I’ll be working to organize Jewish communities around the important work for LGBTQ+ rights. This also means I’ll be staying in the Boston area, though my work will be at the national level. I hope you’ll stay in touch! I’ll certainly be around, geographically speaking, to attend local community events.
At the end of the day, no organization, however small, is defined by one person. MTPC is, and continues to be, a community focused organization. That means that this groundbreaking institution continues to survive and thrive because of people like you, who volunteer, donate, show up, and speak out for trans rights.
Thank you for an amazing experience, and more importantly, thank you for all you do for the Mass Trans Political Coalition. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to play a role in the history of this amazing organization.
In solidarity, now and forever,
MTPC’s statement concerning the Supreme Court’s decision to lift the injunction on military service ban
Today’s news that the Supreme Court will lift an existing injunction and allow the military to actively pursue discriminatory policies against thousands of trans and nonbinary people serving, or seeking to serve, is a cruel slap in the face to our communities. Trans and nonbinary service members simply want to do the jobs they have been trained and tasked to do, and this decision from the Supreme Court will likely hold them back from doing just that. Those seeking to enlist and serve want only to be afforded the same opportunities, and held to the same standards as their cisgender peers. Trans and nonbinary veterans deserve the same honor and respect as others who have served.
This administration’s ban on trans people serving in the military is groundless: there is no evidence that trans people disrupt military effectiveness or threaten unit cohesion. Removing trans and nonbinary service members, however, will mean losing thousands of qualified and trained service members, and have a long term negative effect – for those serving, and for the armed forces as a whole. Regardless of our skepticism or opinions about the military, or critiques of the military-industrial complex, no one should be denied a job, or public service, based on their gender identity or expression. No one should be held back in their career or goals because of discriminatory, biased, and baseless policies.