Celebrating Transgender Pride, our nation’s capital, and our community health, May 18 2013

Gender Neutral – Capital TransPride (View on Flickr.com)

My medical ancestors sat (and stood :)) on the side of patients, in rooms big and small, determined to help the patients take control of their own health destiny. When they were ostracized and oppressed by their medical colleagues, they fought back, they won, and they changed health care for everyone.

35 years ago in our nation’s capital, pride (which is actually an acronym: “Personal Rights in Defense and Education“) was a lot different. The press wasn’t allowed because people were afraid of being photographed. Gay-owned businesses were targeted and people feared for their jobs and their lives. And yet, they created it anyway.

Transgender Pride (Capital TransPride) is a lot like that today.

As it was explained by the organizers, the day is a celebration, a day when the media may tell stories of trans people living well than of their murders.

I had a great time representing myself as a citizen, a Washington, DC resident, a member of the medical profession, and as a physician in the Kaiser Permanente non-profit health system, a proud sponsor this year. I was joined by another Permanente physician, EW Emanuel, MD, and Melanie Hiller and Bianca Rey, our President and Treasurer of the KP Pride Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex Employee Resource Group for Mid-Atlantic States.

I took the photos below knowing that we’ll eventually be joined by physicians and nurses in every health system in this room, and then the room won’t be big enough. It’s just a matter of time.

Health, Employment, and Total Health

Many in this community have difficulty finding employment, even though it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity. Needless to say, access to the necessary care for a healthy transition is challenging, much less ongoing preventive care.

Some are gainfully employed in fortune x00 companies who tell me their companies refuse to cover medically necessary care for their trans employees.

These companies are easy to find on the Human Rights Corporate Equality Index – they typically are stuck at 90 % in the ratings, because coverage for medically necessary care for trans employees is the difference between a 90 % and a 100 %. The brand names in this category will surprise you. The brand names in the 100% category will impress you.

Codie Leone, our keynote speaker and award winning stylist for Patricia Feld, Sex and the City and the Devil Wears Prada, illustrated the connection when someone asked her about traveling through Europe. She told us after her transition she has been able to travel without worry. She also talked about her ability to command respect for who she is (“but not with a baseball bat” she said).

In 2013, we know that it’s a myth that sex affirmation surgery is “cosmetic or experimental” (it isn’t), or that medically supervised transitions are unsuccessful (they are).

The goal of care is not so that a person “passes” as a man or a woman, as Codie mentioned, it’s allowing a person to be who they are.

It’s exciting that in this group of people, health care can have such a profound effect – allowing people to labor, live, love, learn, play, and pray as a productive member of society. That’s total health.

More allies every year

If current societal trends to become more inclusive and love people better continue, next year there will be more of us from our health system and other health systems in the room. Eventually, the room will be filled with doctors and nurses and other professional and community allies. And then there won’t be enough room in this room for all the allies. Just watch. This is history being made.

In the meantime, supporters of trans person (and all LGBTI) health, are invited to walk with us (Kaiser Permanente doctors, nurses, staff, members, and supporters) in this year’s Capital Pride parade on June 8, 2013. We’ll be waving transgender and rainbow pride flags. Sign up here for that.

We are also hosting a transgender health care dialogue at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health (@kptotalhealth), on June 20, 2013. Sign up here for that, too. (Interestingly, two days prior we’ll be hosting a meetup for Google Glass, imagine the applications of that technology for culturally humble care…)

This community is getting stronger and taking control of its destiny. The District of Columbia is ahead of every State in the Union (and tied with Washington State) in protecting its LGBT residents, in large part due to the people in the room with me. Here are the comments of one of them, Ruby Corado, Founder of Casa Ruby (@CasaRubyDC) and 2013 DC Sheroes Awardee.

“Trans Pride DC 2013”
As a Trans woman from DC,
I have seen this city do a 360; degree turn for the better since 1995.
We now enjoy a city that although not perfect has a mayor that is not afraid to speak for Trans injustice, politicians that legislate on our behalf not against us, an LGB community that stands next to us when we fight for our dignity and rights, we now have lgbt media that promotes our success stories not just covers our murders, we now have a city where Trans people can be themselves 24/7.
We even have a day to come together as a big family and celebrate our gender identity and expression.
Please join me tomorrow as I open our Trans Pride celebration remarks with the estate of the Trans movement in DC address.(i made that up lol)
See you tomorrow at 10am at the national christian church 5 thomas circle nw DC

Ruby Corado

Ruby said something remarkable to us as well: “If I am not in the room, it is okay to represent me.” This is a level of trust that few others would have in a community this challenged on a daily basis.

I came to Washington, DC to live diversity and equality and create a world of zero disparities. I found people here who believe that it’s possible to achieve, because it is :).

See you on June 8, if not sooner. Enjoy celebrating pride wherever you are!

1 Comment

Ted Eytan, MD