San Francisco – September 20, 2012 – Transgender people have unique healthcare needs yet often avoid seeking medical care due to a history of discrimination and lack of knowledge or experience among healthcare providers. In response, Project HEALTH today launched TransLine (www.project–health.org/transline), a first of its kind online medical consultation service that provides up-to-date clinical information and individualized case consultation across a broad range of clinical transgender issues. TransLine will be staffed by transgender health experts in clinical practice and is available to healthcare providers nationwide, free of charge.
TransLine will give any clinician – regardless of geography – access to assistance to address difficult questions. This service will be critical for providers who have not previously cared for transgender patients.
Transgender people face a number of hurdles in accessing healthcare. Due to workplace discrimination, transgender people are twice as likely to be unemployed and without employer-based health insurance plans, with uninsured rates ranging from 21 to 64 percent. Those with coverage face pervasive, discriminatory “transgender exclusions” and are denied transgender-specific health services including hormones and surgery. Further, when transgender people do engage in healthcare, they face extreme levels of provider bias and more than 70 percent of transgender patients report experiencing some form of discrimination. Compounding the issue, most medical providers are not equipped with trans-specific medical knowledge as it is rare for medical students to receive any training in transgender health.
“No one should ever have to feel like going to the doctor is an additional risk for discrimination or mistreatment, “said Masen Davis, Executive Director of Transgender Law Center, “Doctors need access to transgender healthcare information so that they can fulfill their goals of providing the best possible care to all patients regardless of their gender identity or expression.”
TransLine is hosted by Project HEALTH, an innovative medical-legal collaboration between San Francisco’s Lyon-Martin Health Services (LMHS) and Transgender Law Center. Project HEALTH is dedicated to expanding access to culturally and medically competent healthcare for transgender individuals.
TransLine was designed by LMHS and Transgender Law Center in collaboration with Callen Lorde Community Health Center (New York), Fenway Health (Boston), Mazzoni Center (Philadelphia), Howard Brown Health Center (Chicago), and Chase Brexton Health Services (Baltimore).
Lyon-Martin Heath Services, a leading community health center serving women, lesbians and transgender individuals since 1979, currently provides informal, ad-hoc transgender medical consultation to a wide spectrum of providers and advocates. “It was time for us to formalize this information and build a comprehensive resource of sound medical information about transgender patients because it has never been more urgently needed than today,” said Dawn Harbatkin, MD, Executive Director. “We know traditional health centers will begin to welcome new transgender patients next year and we want to make sure they have the tools to offer culturally and medically competent care.”
TransLine will initially be staffed by LMHS clinicians, who will respond to inquiries within two business days, and will eventually grow to include expert clinicians working at other LGBT health centers across the country. This nationwide collaboration will lead to the establishment of a national standard for transgender healthcare and identify best practices that can be shared.
About Project HEALTH
Founded in 2008, Project HEALTH – Harnessing Education, Advocacy, and Leadership for Transgender Health – provides training and technical assistance to health centers and providers, increases community member and provider participation in health advocacy, promotes acceptance and changes cultural norms around gender identity and gender expression, and works to bridge the gap between providers and patients. Learn more at www.project-health.org.
Lyon-Martin Health Services provides excellent healthcare to women, lesbians and transgender people in a safe and compassionate environment with sensitivity to sexual and gender identity; services are provided regardless of ability to pay. It is the only community clinic in the country with this focus. Founded in 1979 by a group of medical providers and health activists for lesbians seeking nonjudgmental affordable healthcare, Lyon-Martin is named after well-known feminists and LGBTQ civil rights activists Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin and is a model for culturally sensitive community-based healthcare. For more information, please visit our website at www.lyon-martin.org.
About Transgender Law Center
Founded in 2002, Transgender Law Center is the largest organization in the United States dedicated to changing law, policy and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. In partnership with constituents and allies, Transgender Law Center works to realize a future in which gender self-determination and expression are seen as basic rights and matters of common human dignity. In the past decade, Transgender Law Center has provided free legal assistance and information to more than 10,000 transgender and gender non-conforming people and their families. Over 1,500 people from across the nation called our legal help line in 2011 alone. TLC is found online at www.transgenderlawcenter.org.