Transgender Law Center is thrilled to welcome Anand Kalra, our new Project HEALTH Program Manager!
· Anand, tell us a little bit about yourself, and what brought you to Transgender Law Center?
I’m secretly a librarian! Well, I guess that’s not a secret anymore. All kidding aside, I’m really excited about bringing my training and experience in community information services and reference librarianship to the world of transgender advocacy, and especially health. There are so many different tiers of knowledge in this field, and that makes it hard for people to figure out exactly what they need and how to get those needs met. It’s extremely difficult, for example, to figure out how court decisions, legislation, policy, health insurance plan information, and doctor’s office paperwork all work together (or against each other!), and what that means for people just trying to get healthy and stay healthy. From the outside, I’ve been wowed by the amazing work TLC has been doing already, and I’m looking forward to keeping things rolling with Project HEALTH.
· What do you find is the biggest obstacle for people trying to access quality, affordable care?
Information gaps, and not knowing how to get those gaps filled. The key here is that it’s not just about trans people not knowing things—so many of us have had to become experts just to get our own needs met. There’s a whole system, a giant network of people and positions, with structural information gaps. So we (trans folks) have questions like, Is there a doctor in my area who can prescribe hormones? How can I convince a medical provider to provide transition-related care? How do I know if it’s safe to go to the local ER? And on another side, medical providers have gaps in knowledge, from the basics of vocabulary and pronouns to, say, the arguments for and against prescribing progesterone along with estrogen and what the best dosage is based on a person’s medical history. Then we’ve got case workers and lawmakers and judges and prison officials, we’ve got department heads and elected officials, and all of these people have information gaps, and sometimes they willfully refuse to fill in those gaps.
· What hopes do you have for the state of transgender health care in 2013 and beyond?
Well, the good news about all these information gaps I keep talking about is that Project HEALTH and other fabulous organizations are already working on building bridges. I’m very excited about the Affordable Care Act and the changes it brings for trans folks (stay tuned on the blog for updates), and I’m looking forward to training dozens more medical providers to give competent, respectful care to trans folks of all ages.
· Do you have any pets?
I have two cats (or, should I say, they have me). Finch and Sparrow (alter-ego names: Freddie Einsford-Hill and SpiderCat) recently made the trip from Michigan (my home for 7 years) out to Oakland, where I’ve lived since May.