Time for media to focus on the healthcare needs of the trans community

The city of Dallas has taken a proposal to provide comprehensive healthcare to transgender city employees off the table, for now. But unless you read it in an LGBT outlet, you wouldn't know it - and more importantly, you wouldn't know why it's even an issue.

In January the group Trans Pride Initiative scheduled meetings with the City of Dallas and United healthcare officials to further discuss exactly what is covered under the City of Dallas's current healthcare coverage plans.  The Dallas Voice reports that although the current coverage for transgender individuals does cover hormone treatment, counseling, and wellness checkups, it excludes gender reassignment surgery.   

Even though Dallas's healthcare plan goes much further than most, due to job discrimination and a lack of employment opportunities altogether, without comprehensive insurance coverage, many transgender individuals whose doctors recommend sex reassignment are unable to afford it. The need for medical coverage for trans persons is essential to making sure proper psychological and physical health needs are provided and accessible to everyone in the community.  Without insurance coverage, many transgender people sadly turn to self-medication, through the black market.

Unfortunately, media coverage has been all but nonexistent around this story and most others that involve the healthcare needs of the transgender community.

Trans Pride Inititative President Nell Gaither talked to GLAAD about the role the media should be playing in educating the public about this.

"The media could do more to promote an understanding of what it means for a procedure to be considered medically necessary, to promote a better understanding of the variety of procedures that might be covered, and to help folks understand that each trans person's medical access is based on the needs of that individual -- not everyone desires or needs the same procedures, and not every person weighs the benefits and risks of certain procedures the same."

Gaither added that the issue of healthcare is closely tied to other issues, like employment.

"The high rate of unemployment among the trans community, particularly among trans persons facing multiple factors of stigma (such as trans Latin@ persons, trans immigrants, and trans African Americans), is a separate issue. We need to see a trans-inclusive federal level Employment Non-Discrimination Act to be passed to help address high unemployment rates among the trans community. We also need education and better public advocacy to address stigma and misconceptions about trans identities."

Media coverage is crucial to that educational process by creating pressure on local and national political figures, while empowering that do support healthcare for Transgender persons to truly campaign for it.

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