San Francisco, CA -A coalition of labor unions and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality groups will launch “Trans Month of Action” at an event titled “Transitioning to Better Healthcare”. The event is part of local and national efforts to educate LGBT people and labor unions about the importance of access to basic medically-necessary healthcare for transgender people.

This first-of-its-kind effort is inspired by the belief that all workers deserve to have all medically-necessary care covered by health insurance, including transgender people whose healthcare needs are not being met.

In a recent healthcare victory last November, the San Francisco Health Commission voted unanimously to remove transgender exclusions from the city’s universal healthcare program, Healthy SF. This groundbreaking vote affirms the overwhelming consensus in the medical community: that ending unfair healthcare insurance exclusions is not only necessary, but also the right thing to do.

Now local organizing committees of labor unions and transgender advocacy groups have teamed up to ask unions, labor councils and state federations to pledge to bargain for trans-inclusive health benefits.

“While I was the first transgender person to transition on the job in my local, I’ve never felt anything but support from my sisters and brothers. But my health insurance excludes coverage for any transition-related care and I had to pay for medically necessary care out of pocket,” said Carol Dauley, a master sound technician and member of the IATSE Local 16. “Events like this will help educate our communities about this serious injustice and leverage the power of labor unions to commit to bargaining for equal healthcare access for all members.”

“Labor unions are the advocates for economic justice and workplace equality. We cannot think of a better ally to work toward equal access to healthcare for transgender people,” said Cecilia Chung, senior strategist for the Transgender Law Center. Chung added, “I believe as more universities and employers beginning to offer trans health benefits, healthcare insurance companies will realize removing the exclusion is not only the right thing to do but also good business model to stay competitive.”

A 2011 national study by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that 19% of transgender and gender non-conforming people are denied healthcare, and 28% of transgender and gender non-conforming people postpone medical care for fear of discrimination.

Trans Month of Action will move the conversation on transgender healthcare discrimination forward by also discussing the critical need for insurance providers to include transition-related care in their policies.

Event Details
Title: Transitioning to Better Healthcare
Date:Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Time: 7:00-9:00 PM
Location: State of California Building Basement
Street Address: 455 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA
Speakers: Cecilia Chung, Senior Strategist of the Transgender Law Center; Luis Gutierrez-Mock, Co-Executive Chair of the Trans March; Gabriel Haaland, Co-Vice President of Pride at Work; Fresh! White of the LGBT Center; Jamie Rafaela Wolfe, and Vice President of TGSF. The conversation will be facilitated by Tracy Garza.

The event will include a panel of local union leaders and transgender community members discussing strategies to improve access to healthcare for transgender people, and is sponsored by the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, the Trans March, TGSF, SEIU 1021 Lavender Caucus, and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano.

National partners for the Trans Month of Action include Basic Rights Oregon, the Center for American Progress, the National Center for Transgender Equality, Pride at Work, the Service Employees International Union Lavender Caucus, and the Transgender Law Center.

To learn more, please contact Vincent Paolo Villano /vvillano@transequality.org.