As the title suggests, everything on this blog concerns violence against trans women.
The Trans Women's Anti-Violence Project is a trans feminist project addressing issues of systematic, institutional and interpersonal violence and oppression experienced by trans women (those who were coercively assigned male at birth and identify or are identified as women/female) across multiple identities (e.g., race, class, dis/ability, citizen-status, nationality, sexuality, age, HIV status, and form, status, or age of transition, etc.)
Ida Hammer is a writer and social justice communicator. She organizes the Trans Women's Anti-Violence Project. She presents workshops and trainings on cis privilege and being a trans ally. She's also involved in organizing against sexualized violence. She's a proud dyke-identified trans woman and an organizer of the New York City Dyke March.
Ummmm, OP, Not “whatever sex they want” actually they can correct their documents to reflect their true gender, without stigmatizing medical “approval.” It’s not a whim or desire, it’s WHO THEY ARE.
Adults who want sex-change surgery or hormone therapy in Argentina will be able to get it as part of their public or private health care plans under a gender rights law approved Wednesday.
The measure also gives people the right to specify how their gender is listed at the civil registry when their physical characteristics don’t match how they see themselves.
Senators approved the Gender Identity law by a vote of 55-0, with one abstention and more than a dozen senators declaring themselves absent — the same margin that approved a “death with dignity” law earlier in the day.
President Cristina Fernandez threw her support behind the law and is expected to sign it. She has often said how proud she is that Argentina became Latin America’s first nation to legalize gay marriage two years ago, enabling thousands of same-sex couples to wed and enjoy the same legal rights as married heterosexual couples.
For many, gender rights were the next step.
Any adult will now be able to officially change his or her gender, image and birth name without having to get approval from doctors or judges — and without having to undergo physical changes beforehand, as many U.S. jurisdictions require.
“It’s saying you can change your gender legally without having to change your body at all. That’s unheard of,” said Katrina Karkazis, a Stanford University medical anthropologist and bioethicst who wrote a book, “Fixing Sex,” about the medical and legal treatment of people whose physical characteristics don’t fully match their gender identity.
“There’s a whole set of medical criteria that people have to meet to change their gender in the U.S., and meanwhile this gives the individual an extraordinary amount of authority for how they want to live. It’s really incredible,” she said.
When Argentines want to change their bodies, health care companies will have to provide them with surgery or hormone therapy on demand. Such treatments will be included in the “Obligatory Medical Plan,” which means both private and public providers will not be able to charge extra for the services.
“This law is going to enable many of us to have light, to come out of the darkness, to appear,” said Sen. Osvaldo Lopez of Tierra del Fuego, the only openly gay national lawmaker in Argentina.
“There are many people in our country who also deserve the power to exist,” Lopez said.
Children also get a voice under the law: Youths under 18 who want to change their genders gain the right to do so with the approval of their legal guardians. But if parents or guardians want a gender identity change and don’t have the child’s consent, then a judge must intervene to ensure the child’s rights are protected.
Argentina need not worry about vast numbers of people demanding sex changes, Karkazis predicted.
“This isn’t going to create a huge demand on the national health system for these procedures. They’re difficult, painful, irreversible. And this is why many people don’t do it,” she said.
But because the law says people can legally change their identities without having to undergo genital surgery or hormone therapy, these changes can be more benign and even reversible, if some day the person’s self-image changes.
Other countries, including neighboring Uruguay, have passed gender rights laws, but Argentina’s “is in the forefront of the world” because of these benefits it guarantees, said Cesar Cigliutti, president of the Homosexual Community of Argentina.
“This is truly a human right: the right to happiness,” Sen. Miguel Pichetto said during the debate.
Last week, Beth Scott won her battle to get her insurance carrier to cover her mammogram, after they refused to because she’s transgender. Scott’s doctor had recommended the screening, but when it comes to figuring out their actual risk of breast cancer, transgender women (and men) face a frustrating lack of information.
According to Dr. Maddie Deutsch, director of the transgender health program at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center the risk of breast cancer for trans women like Scott is relatively low. It’s likely “much lower,” she says, than the risk for cisgender (that is, non-trans) women. And trans men have surgery to remove their breasts, a small amount of breast tissue can remain, but the reduced amount translates to a significant reduction in risk.
However, she also noted that there’s a serious lack of research in this area. It’s not clear, for instance, whether developing breasts as part of gender transition actually raises a person’s cancer risk — that is, whether transgender women are more likely to get breast cancer than men who never grow breasts. Most funding for trans-related health issues has focused on HIV, mental health, or substance abuse — there’s been almost no research into general health concerns like breast cancer.
The reason, according to JoAnne Keatley, director of the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health at UCSF, is that people who control research money still think of transgender health as a political hot potato. So federal grants for trans health research aren’t available, and private donors shy away too. Keatley says, “there’s no private foundation that I’m aware of that is willing to provide money” to study breast cancer in trans women. A 1988 case study looked at one trans woman who developed cancer 10 years after her transition, and mentioned two previous cases, but according to Keatley, no large-scale research whatsoever into the incidence of breast cancer in transgender people has been done.
When trans men have surgery to remove their breasts, a small amount of breast tissue can remain, but the reduced amount translates to a significant reduction in risk. And Deutsch says there’s some evidence that the testosterone some trans men take can cause remaining breast tissue to “involute,” becoming smaller and less functional. This, she says, could further reduce the risk of cancer.
So while Beth Scott will get her mammogram, it may be some time before she and other transgender women know their true risk of contracting breast cancer.
"The fact is that in Canada or Japan or elsewhere in the industrialized world Perla would not have needed to commit fraud just to get basic healthcare (which is apparently what she obtained). And that is the real story in this news piece, not her trans status."
Apparently, UPI, which claims “over 100 years of journalistic excellence,” thinks that basic equitable access to health care for trans people is nothing more than an oddity to be discussed at the watercooler.
What’s that, a woman won the right to have her breast exam covered by her insurance just like every other woman who pays into the same plan. What is the world coming to? It’s starting getting to the point where you can’t even arbitrarily deny a person basic vital, preventative health care just because they’re trans. We are living in strange times my friends!
A transgender New Jersey woman has reached a settlement with her health insurance company that had declined to cover a sex-specific procedure that had been deemed medically necessary.
Beth Scott underwent a mammogram in June 2010 at her doctor’s recommendation. Aetna declined to cover the procedure because Scott’s policy had a “Sex Reassignment Exclusion” that did not include treatments, drugs, services or supplies “related to changing sex or sexual characteristics.” Scott subsequently appealed the decision, but the company denied it.
In the settlement that the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund announced on Monday, Aetna agreed to cover the mammogram and any future procedures that Scott may have to undergo. The company agreed that the Sex-Reassignment Exclusion clause in her policy only applies to treatments, drugs, services or supplies specifically used to change a patient’s sex or sex characteristics.
Aetna also formally apologized to Scott.
"In reviewing [Scott’s] mammogram claim and plan documents, we have determined that the eligibility of the claim and the plan benefits were misinterpreted," wrote Shelly Ferensic, vice president of Aetna Service Operations, in a March 13 letter to Scott’s lawyer, Carmine D. Boccuzzi, Jr. "We also verified that routine and medically necessary mammograms are not automatically excluded just because a plan excludes transgender surgery. Therefore, based upon clinical information, the claim should have been paid according to her plan benefits, as we consider this to be a routine test that is covered under the plan."
Scott said that the settlement is about fairness.
"While I’m hopeful that my employer will soon eliminate the transgender health exclusion altogether, I’m relieved to know that the existing exclusion can no longer be used to unfairly deny me other needed health care like a cancer screening just because I’m transgender," she said in a TLDEF press release.
This settlement underscores the challenges many trans people face when they submit claims for sex-specific procedures to their health insurance companies.
Lina Kok, a trans woman from North Carolina, reached a settlement with Prudential last fall after it denied a short-term disability claim she filed in Nov. 2010 after she underwent reconstructive facial feminization surgery.
The California Court of Appeals ruled in 1978 that the state’s Medicaid program must cover sex-reassignment surgery because it is not a cosmetic procedure. A New Jersey judge in 1992 ruled that the state’s Medicaid program must also cover the procedure.
The Minnesota Supreme Court in 1977 struck down their state Medicaid’s blanket exclusion for SRS, but lawmakers subsequently reinstated it in 2005. The program still covers hormones and therapies for trans recipients.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health acknowledges facial plastic reconstruction and other sex-reassignment procedures are “medically necessary” to treat Gender Identity Disorder. The U.S. Tax Court upheld this standard in 2010 with its ruling that SRS and other trans-specific surgical procedures are tax deductible.
TLDEF staff attorney Noah Lewis noted to EDGE that insurance companies continue to move to cover sex-specific treatments and procedures that trans patients’ doctors deem medically necessary.
"As long as they are in place, they have to be interpreted narrowly and not be used to deny transgender people care that is provided to everyone else," he said.
The researchers concluded that the health care costs associated with treating a patient after self-castration were almost four times greater than having an elective outpatient surgical castration and that further research in this area of medicine needs to be conducted.
“Patients who choose to perform self-castrations often face significant financial barriers as elective castration is typically not covered under health insurance plans in the United States” said Dr. Irwig. “They are often frustrated at the slow pace of their male-to-female transition.”
In order to reduce the number of self-castrations, urologists who are willing to perform surgery on transsexuals must be identified and more pressure needs to be put on health care insurance companies to cover the procedure. These tactics are a few measures that can reduce the financial costs to patients and to the health care system.
Transgender people in Sweden who are denied breast implants are more likely to commit suicide, according to an advocacy group which has urged health authorities to draw up national guidelines on the procedure.
“Breast implants for transgender women are in many cases an very important measure for them to function with their new identity and allow them to fit in as women in everyday life,” the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) wrote in a petition to the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).
RFSL goes on to warn that transgender people who are refused breast implants as a compliment to hormone treatment and suffer from a variety of psychological problems, resulting in an “alarmingly” high suicide rate.
“Plastic surgery for transsexual patients, to a large extent, saves lives,” according to RFSL, citing the health board’s own findings statistics showing that the suicide rate among patients denied breast implants is 30 to 40 percent, compared with only 1.6 percent for the general population.
The advocacy group filed the petition with Swedish health authorities in response to reports that a transgender person was recently denied breast implants by a the Södra Älvsborgs hospital in Alingsås in western Sweden.
According to RFSL, the hospital’s decision reveals inconsistencies in how transgender people are handled in the Swedish health system.
“It’s not acceptable that a small and vulnerable group of transgender people such as this transexual group is given different rights to care depending on where in the country they live,” RFSL wrote.
The organization now wants the health board to draw up national guidelines for dealing with requests by transgender people for breast implants.
In its petition, RFSL emphasized the importance of respecting “an individual’s value and right to decide over their identity”.
“RFSL demands that care for transgender people be given under the same conditions regardless of where one lives in Sweden,” the group wrote.
[image: an infographic titled Snapshots of transgender life that says 41% can’t change their gender on their IDs, 57% were rejected by families, 19% have experienced homelessness, 19% were refused medical care, 47% have attempted suicide. Source is available at transequality.org].