Providing Access to Sex-Segregated Systems and Services

by Emilia Dunham

Program Associate, reporting on the Philly Trans-Health Conference

Every trans person has to struggle with accessing sex-segregated services. We have to deal with formal and informal restrictions to certain spaces, and face opposition from people who vehemently don’t want us to be there. The organization FORGE in Milwaukee for trans people and their allies led a great workshop on the subject.

There are several places that segregate: DV shelters, bathrooms, health or fitness gyms or classes, schools, hospital rooms, OB/GYN and urologist offices, sports.

There are many reasons for it: tradition, convenience, privacy (body privacy and shame), assumption of fundamental differences in gender, tailored services to gender services, perceived safety, funding (federal funding is often segregated by gender and/or sexuality)

In reality, 1 out of 3 sexual assault survivors are men and perpetrators of trans people are 2/3 of the time men, yet trans people are often placed in sex-segregated spaces that typically aren’t desired fits if they are even accepted at all.


Working with systems or create something new

When screening at sex-segregated systems, evaluate whether services are available. If so, then ask the client if that would be comfortable and a good fit. If there aren’t services, access the core needs of the clients’ needs/wants/other options

Ask if needs can be met by other providers not as rigidly defined by gender, ask can patient bring someone, are there other options than hospital stays, are there relatives or friends to stay with rather than shelters.

Great resources:

Network/LA Red (Boston) has phone support groups for LGBTA individuals, RAINN (Minnesota) has online support, FORGE has a SV-survivor listserve (national).

Here are some other excellent FORGE resources on this topic:

Taking It on the Chin: New Fast Facts about Violence Against Transgender People

What You Should Know: About Violence and Harassment Against LGBT Individuals 

Taking It on the Chin: New Fast Facts about Violence Against Transgender People

Criminal Justice? Fast Facts about Transgender People, Police, and Incarceration

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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