Importance of Advocacy for Implementation of Trans Inclusion in Federal Health Policies

by Emilia Dunham

Reporting from the Transgender Health Summit in San Francisco

I’m having the incredible privilege of attending the Center for Excellence for Transgender Health’s first national Transgender Health Summit. The opening remarks this morning were from Herb Schultz, MPP, Regional Director at the DHHS Region IX who spoke about trans inclusion at the federal level.

Some of the major themes he discussed were inclusion, implementation and bringing advocacy to the local, state and federal level and how we can assist government to make changes that affect our community.

He discussed his personal story, and how 20 years ago, he become involved in HIV prevention. Later became involved in LA AIDS Project, and after a meeting with trans advocates, he realized there were so few protections and services for trans people. He’s inspired by trans communities and the progress we’ve made in such a short time, despite our opposition.

Despite the struggles to enact and implement trans inclusive policies, recent advocacy to the federal level is getting inclusion.

Herb Schultz, MPP, Regional Director at the DHHS Region IX

There is a place in the government to advocate for trans inclusion in government, which we’ve seen from the recent IOM report and report from HHS of non-discrimination concerning gender identity. The changes made were because trans communities went to Kathleen Sebelius; people like us, who have advocated for trans inclusion.

In the future, what we need to consider future advocacy and implementation. For instance implementation of the Health Care Reform Act is vitally important for trans communities. There are consumer protections, there are groundbreaking changes in our health services, but when you look at where our government is, there are many people on local, state and federal government who are against HCR and trans programs. For that reason, we should prepare to defend these programs.

Governments have never included communities like ours to get our input, so it’s SO important we continue advocating!

Published by Emilia Dunham, MPP, MBA

Emilia Dunham is currently a Project Manager at MassHealth/Department of Public Health, and formerly the Project Manager of the Life Skills project at The Fenway Institute, an HIV intervention study for young transgender women. Emilia worked at Fenway for 7 years, first as a Quality Control and Regulatory Assistant mainly involved with biomedical HIV prevention trials, before serving as the Program Associate for The Network for LGBT Health Equity, a network instrumental in many national LGBT health policy improvements. She is also involved with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, serving as a Steering Committee member and the Policy Committee Co-Chair, an organization largely responsible for the recent passage of the Trans Rights Bill. Additionally she serves as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Co-Chair of the Recommendations Committee. Emilia received a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. There she served as President of the LGBTQ student group where she planned programs such as Pride Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and AIDS Week. In addition, she advocated for LGBTQ inclusive policies and programming on campus such as a Gender Neutral Housing program, an LGBTQ Center and the expansion of Women’s Studies to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Emilia recently earned a Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration in health policy and management from the Brandeis Heller School School for Social Policy and Management.

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