By February 7, 2020 Read More →

Fairness West Virginia releases interactive health guide for transgender West Virginians

Release from Fairness West Virginia:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After completing the first year of the West Virginia Transgender Health Initiative, Fairness West Virginia unveiled Friday the first phase of its comprehensive guide for transgender people who need to access medical care in the Mountain State.

Staff from Fairness West Virginia have spent more than a year training health care and mental health providers across the region in how to provide competent and compassionate care for transgender people. Those providers are now listed in an online guide.

“This is just the beginning,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness West Virginia. “We will continue to train medical providers and their staff over the coming year, and we hope to double the number of providers we currently have on our list. Everyone deserves access to competent and compassionate care, and we owe it to our transgender friends and neighbors to make sure they can access the services they need.”

An interactive version of the guide can be accessed online, and a limited number of printed guides will be available upon request.

In May of 2019, Fairness West Virginia conducted a survey of more than 50 transgender people living in West Virginia about the forms of discrimination they have faced and their barriers to accessing health care.

Of those surveyed, 60 percent said a health care provider had intentionally misgendered them, 20 percent said they had been refused care and 25 percent said that unrelated health issues were blamed on their gender identity. 

“It’s no secret that access to health care in rural parts of West Virginia can be difficult, and it’s twice as hard for transgender people,” Schneider said. “And we’re not even talking about specific transition-related services like hormone replacement therapy or gender-affirming surgery. We’re talking about basic, everyday health services that many cisgender people take for granted.”

“It’s so bad in some areas of our state that transgender people are subjected to invasive total-body examinations when they seek help for simple things like a foot injury,” Schneider said.

In addition, nearly 70 percent of those surveyed said they delayed accessing health care because of fear of discrimination. About 36 percent traveled out of state to access care, and 46 percent had to travel more than an hour to access care.

“The providers I’ve worked with on this initiative have been surprised at how easy it is to provide better care to transgender people,” said Natasha Stone, Fairness West Virginia’s organizer who provides trainings for this initiative. “Most people want to provide the best care for their patients, but they aren’t always aware of the ways they can make it easier for transgender patients to access care.”

Stone has trained more than 400 professionals who work in a health care setting across West Virginia since this initiative began. She provides this training at no cost to clinics or providers located in Kanawha, Boone, Clay, Fayette, Lincoln and Putnam Counties. Providers and clinics outside those counties are asked to provide financial assistance to cover the cost of travel. To inquire about a training, please contact Stone at natasha@fairnesswv.org.

The West Virginia Transgender Health Initiative was made possible in part by a grant from The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation. In December, Fairness West Virginia was awarded a second year of funding for this project.

Partners on this project include the West Virginia State Medical Association, the West Virginia Psychological AssociationLGBTQ+ Social Worker Committee for the West Virginia System of CareMission WVWV FREE, the WV School of Osteopathic MedicinePlanned Parenthood and the WVU LGBTQ+ Center.

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Fairness West Virginia is the statewide civil rights advocacy organization dedicated to fair treatment and civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender West Virginians. Our mission is to ensure LGBT people can be open, honest and safe at home, at work, and in the community. We are open to everyone who believes in fundamental fairness.

Please direct questions to Jake Jarvis, communications manager, at 304-730-9458 or jake@fairnesswv.org.

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