To Be Able to Be Seen
March 31 marks the Transgender Day of Visibility which recognizes and celebrates transgender and gender diverse people around the world.
While the event has been celebrated since 2009, last year President Biden issued a formal proclamation of the day to “celebrate the achievements and resiliency of transgender individuals and communities.”
Research indicates that transgender people in the United States, especially transgender women of color, experience disproportionate economic marginalization, homelessness, and stigma and discrimination in healthcare access and provision. Data indicate that 33% of transgender individuals did not go to a health care provider when needed because they could not afford it. 55% of transgender individuals who seek coverage for transition-related surgery are denied by their insurance company. Transgender individuals have often cited negative experiences in healthcare settings such as being misgendered, noting these as reasons for delaying care.
Access to care is a cornerstone that can help prevent unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency room visits, which often result in more expensive care. Lack of insurance coverage for gender affirmation procedures, gaps in mental health services, lack of cultural competency for transgender care, and other healthcare barriers are all factors that lead to a group that’s both underserved and high risk for certain health challenges. We understand these health challenges and must support efforts to turn the tide and make a positive impact.
Fortunately, we have partners in organizations and allies that support the health and wellbeing of the transgender community. At the Saint Francis Foundation, we have supported programs and organizations including the Gender Institute at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, TransThrive at San Francisco Community Health Center, LYRIC, and the Maitri Affirmation Center. And there are many who work to ensure justice, health, housing, and other essential human needs including organizations like Lyon-Martin Community Health Services, Gender Health SF, The Transgender Cultural District, EL/la Para Trans Latinas, and many others.
In partnership with Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, we’re working with state and national funders like Cigna Foundation, Merck Foundation, and Sierra Health Foundation, as well as a donors, to ensure that patients receive wraparound support for their psychosocial and behavioral health needs, in addition to receiving excellent, patient-centered care.
Over the past several years, Saint Francis Memorial Hospital has been growing its Gender Institute, led by Dr. Heidi Wittenberg, and attracting top doctors from around the country. Last year, it was recognized as the first hospital internationally to receive accreditation as a Center of Excellence in Gender Confirmation Surgery. And just last month, the hospital was recognized as an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader – the nation’s foremost recognition for policies and practices dedicated to the equitable treatment and inclusion of their LGBTQ+ patients, visitors and employees.
We are excited to continue our work to improve the access to care, quality of care, and address the inequities for transgender and gender diverse individuals in San Francisco. As we now understand, when we improve outcomes for a marginalized population, we can improve healthcare quality for all.
Saint Francis Foundation