Trailblazing for Transgender Health
Kristina Wertz, Mason Davis, Michelle Enfield
The list of things transgender people need to be healthy is extensive: medical care, insurance coverage, mental health services, substance abuse providers, gender identity specific non-discrimination laws, sexual health education and screenings, case management support, community and interpersonal supports. Oh, and in order for this to all work adequately, all of these things need to be culturally competent, resepctful, affordable, and accessible. Providing healthcare that adequately serves the transgender community is no small feat, but Project H.E.A.L.T.H. is making some significant forays into creating a better system.
Project H.E.A.L.T.H., which stands for Harnessing Education, Advocacy, and Leadership for Transgender Health, is a trifecta of community collaboration, bringing together Lyon Martin Health Services, Transgender Law Center, and Equality California to address three primary areas: training for medical staff and clinics, education related to legal rights and responsibilies for transgender health care, and community building and collaboration. Project H.E.A.L.T.H. works with clinics either on a short-term (one or two meetings) or long-term (6 months to one year) planning and creates work plans for cultural competency, clinical competency, connections with community, and evaluation. Seriously awesome stuff.
Coming from Columbia, Missouri (and not Los Angeles or San Francisco, California, where the Project is hosted), the work is a little down the road from where my community is. But the greatest take away for me was, as Mason Davis (originally from MO) reminded us: don’t underestimate the one provider or health clinic that wants to more adequately serve transgender individuals in their communities.
I’m stoked and geared up to get back to my community and share the resources from this session. We may be just beginning to look at gender identity non-discrimination policies in Columbia and we may have a long way to go, but there are some rock stars laying a great path for us out in California.