Na­tional Trans Health Con­fer­ence re­turns to At­lanta for fourth year De­tails

GA Voice - - Georgianews -

Ron­nie Bass is on a mis­sion. He wants to re­mind the world that trans­gen­der lives are not in­vis­i­ble. They mat­ter, and so should their health. That’s the theme of this year’s Na­tional Trans Health Con­fer­ence, the fourth an­nual meet­ing to ed­u­cate med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als on treat­ing trans­gen­der pa­tients — both with pre­scrip­tions and as hu­man be­ings.

“Peo­ple who have in­ter­ac­tions with trans­gen­ders on a daily ba­sis: doc­tors, nurses, case man­agers; some­one who’s a re­cep­tion­ist at Ful­ton County Pub­lic Health De­part­ment, that’s some­one who needs to be trained on how to ad­dress a trans­gen­der per­son,” said Bass, founder and ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Some­one Cares, Inc., the At­lanta-based or­ga­ni­za­tion in charge of the con­fer­ence. “If I go to Ful­ton County Pub­lic Health De­part­ment and the first per­son is the re­cep­tion­ist and she says, ‘How can I help you sir?’ and I’m clearly dressed as a woman, that’s go­ing to be a big turnoff.”

Kayleigh Fitz­patrick, a trans­gen­der Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia grad­u­ate now pur­su­ing nurs­ing in Ari­zona, knows the feel­ing. She be­lieves there is an ex­clu­sion­ary cul­ture, es­pe­cially for post-op­er­a­tional trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als. Sev­eral months af­ter her op­er­a­tion, she had three dif­fer­ent hos­pi­tal stays for se­ri­ous in­fec­tions.

“The first cou­ple of vis­its, my care was in­cred­i­bly sub-par. The staff OB/GYN re­fused to see me based on my med­i­cal his­tory,” she said. “The doc­tors … hid be­hind the veil of, ‘I don’t know any­thing about this,’ when in re­al­ity I’m no dif­fer­ent than thou­sands of women who have had hys­terec­tomies.”

Sit­u­a­tions like Fitz­patrick’s are why Bass wants at­ten­dees to get just one thing out of the con­fer­ence.

“Just one word: re­spect!” he said. “You might not like me, but I have to come to you. So when I come into that environment, I don’t want your staff to treat me like some Mar­tian.” —Jesse Mi­lan, Jr., key­note speaker of the 2016 Na­tional Trans Health Con­fer­ence

Pre­sen­ta­tions, work­shops, net­work­ing events lined up

At­ten­dees at the con­fer­ence will choose a track of ab­stract pre­sen­ta­tions and work­shops with top­ics like trans­gen­der health, HIV and HCV co-in­fec­tion, cul­tural com­pe­tency, what to ex­pect from health­care providers be­yond the pre­scrip­tion, psy­cho­log­i­cal health and more. There will be net­work­ing events and a screen­ing of the movie “MA­JOR!” In be­tween work­shop ses­sions, the en­tire group will gather to­gether for key­note speeches.

Jesse Mi­lan Jr., in­terim pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Wash­ing­ton, D.C.based AIDS United, is the key­note speaker on Fri­day, Nov. 17. He plans to ad­dress is­sues of lead­er­ship by and for the trans­gen­der com­mu­nity, and how tak­ing on lead­er­ship roles can help the com­mu­nity reach a goal of no more HIV in­fec­tions and no more AIDS.

Novem­ber 11, 2016

“There is some­thing provoca­tive about the term ‘LGBT.’ That ‘T’ is al­ways last. We never say ‘TGBL,’” he said. “It’s im­por­tant for us to shed light on the trans com­mu­nity be­cause the en­tire HIV/AIDS com­mu­nity in­cludes them in both at-risk pop­u­la­tions [and] af­fected pop­u­la­tions. We can­not al­low the trans com­mu­nity to be an af­ter­thought.”

That’s go­ing to take an “if I don’t do it, who will?” men­tal­ity, Mi­lan said.

Mi­lan said of­ten peo­ple think of lead­er­ship in terms of who has a ti­tle and who’s in charge of pol­icy-mak­ing, but nei­ther are re­quire­ments to mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.

“You don’t have to wait for the case man­ager or the doc­tor to say to that per­son, ‘You re­ally need to have an HIV test.’ If you’re wait­ing for some­one else to take that lead, then you may be miss­ing an op­por­tu­nity to help save a life,” he said.

2016 Na­tional Trans Health Con­fer­ence

Novem­ber 17-19, 2016 Sher­a­ton At­lanta Ho­tel 165 Court­land St. NE At­lanta, GA 30303 www.some­onecare­satl.org

‘This is a med­i­cal con­di­tion’

For the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als in at­ten­dance, Mi­lan be­lieves they can lead by help­ing col­leagues un­der­stand how im­por­tant trans­gen­der health is.

“If we only go back and im­prove our own ser­vice, that is a huge step, but it may not be the only step. The en­tire med­i­cal com­mu­nity needs more in­for­ma­tion. As each one of the at­ten­dees be­comes their own best prac­tice for how to pro­vide ser­vices to trans clients, that ser­vice needs to be held up,” he said.

The more these best prac­tices ex­hibit the cul­ture of re­spect Bass said is nec­es­sary, the bet­ter health­care can be­come for trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als, ad­dress­ing not just the need for HIV test­ing, but for men­tal health eval­u­a­tions and pre- and post-op­er­a­tory care.

Fitz­patrick be­lieves that one way to cre­ate that cul­ture of re­spect is for peo­ple to re­al­ize that be­ing trans­gen­der is a med­i­cal is­sue.

“This is a med­i­cal con­di­tion. It’s an ac­tual med­i­cal, di­ag­nos­able con­di­tion,” Fitz­patrick said. “It was my form of can­cer. It wasn’t can­cer in the sense of I had can­cer, but for me it was. It was a life-or-death sit­u­a­tion where I had a growth on my body that re­pulsed me, that made me phys­i­cally ill and with­out it be­ing re­moved it was go­ing to kill me.”

Fitz­patrick wants to be­come a nurse prac­ti­tioner to help and treat peo­ple like her in a pro­fes­sional man­ner. It’s that sort of lead­er­ship Mi­lan hopes to in­spire in all of the providers lis­ten­ing to his speech this month.

“I hope that peo­ple em­brace the pos­si­bil­i­ties of how things can be­come dif­fer­ent for the trans com­mu­nity,” he said. “Bet­ter ser­vices, bet­ter le­gal pro­tec­tions, bet­ter ad­vo­cacy for the com­mu­nity, bet­ter health out­comes for the trans com­mu­nity. The pos­si­bil­i­ties of im­prov­ing all of those are what this con­fer­ence is about: giv­ing peo­ple the de­sire to want to go out and do their part to im­prove them.”

By DAL­LAS DUN­CAN “Bet­ter ser­vices, bet­ter le­gal pro­tec­tions, bet­ter ad­vo­cacy for the com­mu­nity, bet­ter health out­comes for the trans com­mu­nity. The pos­si­bil­i­ties of im­prov­ing all of those are what this con­fer­ence is about: giv­ing peo­ple the de­sire to want to go out and do their part to im­prove them.”

At­ten­dees at the 2015 Na­tional Trans Health Con­fer­ence. This year’s event will be held Nov. 17-19 at the Sher­a­ton At­lanta Ho­tel. (Photo cour­tesy Some­one Cares)

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