Darryl Avery is a transgender man seeking medical care to complete his transition. (Angela Hart/KQED)
By Angela Hart
Among those estimated to enroll in the expansion of Medi-Cal, some of those most likely to benefit are among the most stigmatized in health care — transgender patients. Darryl Avery, 48, is one of them. Avery was born female, but identifies as a man. Several years ago, he began his transition. He moved to San Francisco where he sought medical care, stable housing, culinary schooling, and eventually, sex reassignment surgery.
“I’ve seen so many trans people with mental health problems, they get access to treatment, and it’s like you’ve flipped a light switch on.”
“Where I grew up in New Jersey, there were no resources for me,” Avery said. “I never had anyone I could relate to until I moved here. I was no longer called a freak.”
Avery lives without a steady source of income. Because California is expanding its Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal here, Avery now has access to health insurance. More than one million Californians are newly enrolled as of January 1.
And for people like Avery, who are seeking transgender care and sex-reassignment surgery, it’s a “big deal” says Dawn Harbatkin, Avery’s primary care physician who is also executive director for Lyon Martin Health Services, an LGBT-focused community health clinic on Market Street near San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood.
By Scott Detrow, KQED
Update 1:05pm: Gov. Jerry Brown has signed AB 1266 into law.
Here’s the original post:
A bill on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk would allow transgender students to participate in sports and other activities as well as use facilities based on how they identify their gender, regardless of what sex they were born as. The governor has until Tuesday at midnight to sign or veto the bill.
The legislation, AB 1266, adds just four words to California law, but the Transgender Law Center’s legal director, Ilona Turner, calls it a major step toward acceptance.
“When transgender students are forced to participate in activities based on the sex that they were assigned that is not the sex they are living as, it outs them as transgender, for one thing,” she said, “and subjects them to all kinds of stigma and harassment from their peers.”
California’s education laws already ban gender-based discrimination, but outreach group Gender Spectrum’s director of education and training, Joel Baum, said the new measure would “give clear direction” to school administrators making decisions on a sensitive subject. Continue reading
The state’s Department of Managed Health Care has issued a letter to “remind” health care plans that discrimination against transgender people is in violation of anti-discrimination laws passed in 2005. The DMHC regulates HMOs in California.
In a release, the Transgender Law Center called the directive “groundbreaking” and said it will save lives. “For years, transgender Californians have been denied coverage of basic care merely because of who we are,” said Masen Davis, executive director of the center. “Discriminatory insurance exclusions put transgender people and our families at risk for health problems and financial hardship. Now we can finally get the care we need.” Continue reading