Transgender Health

RECENT POSTS

Male in Life, Female in Death: The Story of Christopher Lee’s Death Certificate

Christopher Lee lived his life as a man, but after he died by suicide, the death certificate listed his gender as female.

Christopher Lee lived his life as a man, but after he died by suicide, the death certificate listed his gender as female.

By Matt Levin

Death certificates are typically pretty boring documents. A box for name, a box for date, a box for place and time, for cause of death. A bureaucratic afterthought to help family and friends settle the affairs of a deceased loved one.

“I looked at it, and it said ‘female’ on it. And I asked her, ‘Why does it say female? He was male.'”
A death certificate was not on the forefront of Chino Scott-Chung’s mind as he waited for the ashes of his best friend, Christopher Lee. Lee, 48, had committed suicide in December 2012, and Scott-Chung was still reeling from the death of the friend who had served as best man in his wedding.

After receiving the ashes, Scott-Chung prepared to leave when the employee from the Oakland cremation services company handed him Lee’s death certificate.

Scott-Chung immediately noticed something was wrong. Something that Christopher would never have consented to if he were still alive. Continue reading

New Bill Would Give Transgender People More Control Over Death Certificates

(Craig Miller/KQED)

(Craig Miller/KQED)

Regulations and laws have been expanding rapidly recently to give transgender people new rights. For example, transgender students can now use a school bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Athletes can compete in the Olympics — according to their gender identity. But when a transgender person passes away, the last record of the life they lived speaks to an identity they left behind.

Christopher Lee died in Oakland in 2012. His friends took great care to explain to the coroner that Lee was a female-to-male transgender person. They pointed to his driver’s license that showed the “sex” box marked with the letter “M,” for male. But when Lee’s best friend Chino Scott Chung went to pick up Lee’s ashes, the death certificate listed Christopher as Kristina. Sex: female.

“Christopher lived his life in all ways as a man and he changed his driver’s license and passport to reflect this,” said Scott-Chung. “Listing him as female on his death certificate is disrespectful to his memory and his legacy. It is deeply painful to me, to his chosen family, and to the community that he was so much a part of. Continue reading

Medi-Cal Expansion Opens Doors to Care for Transgender Patients

Darryl Avery is a transgender man seeking medical care to complete his transition. (Angela Hart/KQED)

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.

Continue reading

Gov. Brown Signs Transgender Students’ Rights Bill

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

State Health Agency Directs Insurers to Stop Discriminating Against Transgender People

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