Campaign for Southern Equality and WNCCHS break new ground with partnership to expand health care for transgender individuals

Press release from The Campaign for Southern Equality:

The Campaign for Southern Equality and Western North Carolina Community Health Services (WNCCHS) have announced an expanded partnership to promote WNCCHS Transgender Health Program, a groundbreaking model of delivering culturally-competent integrated medical care to transgender individuals across Western North Carolina.

The Campaign for Southern Equality is donating $10,000 to help fund WNCCHS Transgender Health Program, which was launched in 2007 and currently provides health care services to more than 200 transgender individuals. This support will enable the Transgender Health Program to grow its primary care services for individuals in Western North Carolina, and continue the high quality integrated services that are currently provided.

WNCCHS is the only provider in Western North Carolina that provides such services for transgender individuals. WNCCHS pioneered the program based on an acute need for culturally-competent services for transgender individuals in the region. This program serves people in 18 Western NC counties, including Avery, Buncombe, Cleveland, Clay, Cherokee, Graham, Henderson, Haywood, Jackson, Macon Madison, Mitchell, McDowell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, and Yancey counties.

Ninety-five percent of patients at WNCCHS are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, with a high number of those having no insurance at all.

“Our service area for transgender health and HIV care is large and rural, and we have learned the impact of stigma on an individual’s ability to receive health care services. We strive to provide appropriate, up to date, evidence-based care for our trans patients, including preventive services, behavioral health services, hormone therapy, general medical care, and referral to community resources. Along with these direct patient services, we have had a mission to educate other healthcare providers in Asheville and other communities to increase access to healthcare for transgender patients. We recognize that there is a huge gap in healthcare that is accessible and appropriate for transgender patients in the United States, and we are thrilled that this donation will allow us to work with the Campaign for Southern Equality to expand access to services for all patients,” says Dr. Jennifer Abbott, director of WNCCHS Transgender Health Program.

National data shows that 28 percent of transgender individuals report experiencing harassment in health care settings when they seek care, according to a 2010 report conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality et al. Transgender individuals also have specific health care needs that may be overlooked by providers; a staggering 41 percent of transgender individuals report attempting suicide, compared to 1.6 percent of the general population.

“WNCCHS is at the cutting edge of providing transgender health care in the South – they provide accessible, integrated services and, just as critically, treat people with dignity, respect and affirmation from the time they walk in the door. The need for these services could not be more urgent. Their model is working, their team is incredible and what they need is more resources to serve more people. We are honored to provide that,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, CSE’s executive director.

Based in Asheville, CSE works across the South to promote full LGBT equality. CSE’s work includes partnering with direct service providers, offering free legal clinics, and maintaining an online LGBT Rights Toolkit, which helps LGBT Southerners access resources and protect their rights.

“The transgender community is one of the most under served groups in terms of competent healthcare. WNCCHS is not only improving, but also saving the lives of transgender and gender nonconforming people through their work. The importance of the direct services they provide to our community cannot be overstated,” says Ivy Hill, CSE’s LGBT Rights Toolkit Coordinator.

About Able Allen
Able studied political science and history at Warren Wilson College. He enjoys travel, dance, games, theater, blacksmithing and the great outdoors. Follow me @AbleLAllen

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