We recently discovered that the Mayor’s office released a report claiming to be about the health of the “GLBT community”, while failing to include trans people at all. Despite recognizing other differences such as race, age, ward and income, there is no data that breaks down the statistics by gender identity. Like the Mayor’s hate crimes report earlier this year, the report claims to include trans people but entirely ignores gay, lesbian and bisexual-identified trans folks, as well as trans people who are straight.
The continued invisiblization of our communities contributes to the widespread ignorance about trans people. Additionally, the lack of knowledge fuels existing health disparities revealed in other studies. If the city government is actually concerned about public health, it must prioritize the health needs of underserved trans communities in the District. In our letter to the Mayor (and copied to the Dept. of Health and the City Council), we state our belief that the government should firmly commit to including trans communities and allocate grant funding to help make a new trans needs assessment possible.
UPDATE: Check out this article over on MetroWeekly: “Missing Persons Report: Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs release first health report on gay residents, omits trans people.” We have been in touch with the Mayor’s office and the City Council. We will be submitting recommendations to improve data collection, but we have yet to hear a solid promise from the Mayor’s office that this will included in future surveys. See below for our full press release.
DCTC Alarmed by Exclusion of Trans Communities in LGB Health Report
Group Concerned with Mayor’s Approach in Addressing Trans Health Needs
Washington, DC – On Wednesday, July 9th, the DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) sent a letter to Mayor Adrian Fenty expressing disappointment and concern that transgender, transsexual and gender diverse (hereafter; trans) communities were excluded from the Office of GLBT Affairs June 30, 2010 Report of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Health in the District of Columbia. While the goal of the report was to “present data and prompt discussion” about how to improve the overall “health outcomes in the GLBT community living in the District of Columbia,” the group expressed their alarm by the report’s very obvious omission of existing research on D.C. trans communities and they remain concerned that the report fails to acknowledge the current state of trans constituents’ health.
“Anecdotally, we are well aware of the significant health disparities many trans communities experience due to stigma, discrimination and ignorance,” said Elijah Edelman, a DCTC researcher. “Furthermore, existing data gleaned from various survey tools – including the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS), the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS), and even Jessica Xavier’s somewhat dated Needs Assessment of Transgender People of Color Living in Washington, D.C. – could have provided a baseline to gauge the current state of health for various trans communities. Acknowledging that the existing survey tools only provide a partial snapshot of the current health of local transgender communities in the report would have added much needed transparency rather than falsely stating that one of the report’s goals is to ‘prompt discussion about how to improve the overall health outcomes in the GLBT community.’”
In order to prompt an honest and inclusive discussion about the current health outcomes of the District’s trans communities, the group offered a set of recommendations that will enable the Mayor’s GLBT Affairrs Office to better research and ensure the inclusion of the District’s trans communities:
- Needs Assessment Funding. Direct the Office of GLBT Affairs to allocate grant funding for a comprehensive needs assessment for all trans communities living in the District of Columbia.
- Issue a Trans Health Report. Release a second health report that specifically addresses the state of trans health, using the available survey tools and research to create a baseline for the future needs assessment.
- Improved Data Collection. Ensure that all existing survey tools issued by your office include questions that capture a respondent’s gender identity and sexual orientation.
- Commitment to True Inclusion. Commit to releasing reports inclusive of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities living in the District of Columbia, especially when the Office of GLBT Affairs reports on LGBT matters.
“The failure to report data on the current health of trans communities underscores the urgency to introduce improved data collection methods, which will enable the Mayor to better meet the needs of trans communities living in the District of Columbia,” said Edelman. “While we are disappointed that we were not initially consulted in the construction of this report, we do welcome the opportunity to speak with the Mayor and his staff to discuss these recommendations in more depth, which we believe will ensure accurate data collection for the empowerment of all trans communities living in the District of Columbia,” said Edelman.