Widespread discrimination & ignorance among doctors is a bitter pill to swallow for trans people seeking care. That’s why the Center is dedicated to offering topquality care for trans patients.
Living in a body that’s out of sync with one’s gender identity can be extremely distressing; in some cases it contributes to crippling depression and an elevated risk of suicide.
Not every person who is trans* wants to physically transition to the other gender, but for those who do, the need for medical support is often desperate. Medical treatments for those transitioning from male-to-female or from female-to-male can include hormone therapy as well as surgery on the face, chest and/or genitals.
Despite the trans community’s heightened need for medical care (at least for those taking hormones), trans people face tremendous obstacles in getting quality care (see sidebar). Even getting routine primary care— not just trans-specific services—is a challenge because of ignorance and
transphobia among medical providers.
The doctor is in (the Center)
Since its founding, the Center has provided trans-specific social services, including transgender support and discussion groups. With this history of serving the trans community and a reputation for offering leading edge medical care, the Center took note of the lack of affordable trans-specific medical care and took action.
In 2009, the Center partnered with Dr. Maddie Deutsch (“Dr. Maddie” to patients and colleagues), one of the nation’s leading experts in transgender health care, to launch the Transgender Health Program in 2009.
The program offers:
- Primary medical care
- Hormone therapy supervision for those taking estrogen or testosterone
- Post-surgical care for those who’ve had genital surgery
Most insurance plans are accepted, and fees for those without insurance are on a sliding scale based on income.
“I feel so blessed that I get to see the preeminent hormone therapy doctor in the country—I get to call her my doctor,” says Gina Bigham, one of about 500 trans people who rely on the Center for medical care.
“I was taken aback at first by the level of care I receive from Dr. Maddie. I don’t just mean the health care—I mean she cares. You know she’s on your side because she’s been through it.”
As a trans woman herself, Deutsch is dedicated to making top-quality care available to her community. In addition to caring for patients, Deutsch spends time training other medical professionals on caring for
trans patients. She is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University
of California, San Francisco, where she is also the Clinical Lead for the
Center of Excellence for Transgender Health. Deutsch has given lectures
all over the country, and she will present a TED Talk this month in
The doctor is out (on the Web)
Though the Center strives to make the Transgender Health Program
as efficient as possible, there is no way it can meet the enormous unmet need for quality trans health care.
Unfortunately, new patients face a wait of about nine months before their first appointment with Deutsch.
“We’re doing everything we can, but the need is overwhelming,” Deutsch says. “The whole system needs to change. Insurance needs to change. Right now, a lot of the care trans people need isn’t covered, which means there is no financial incentive for doctors to care for them. When that changes, more doctors will offer those services.”
In order to care for as many patients as possible, the Center created two orientation videos for people considering hormone therapy.
In one video, Deutsch explains the physical effects of testosterone for trans men (also known as female-to-male or FTMs).
In the other, she addresses the effects of estrogen for trans women (also known as male-to-female or MTFs). These videos provide viewers with the same information they’d get from Dr. Maddie herself during an appointment. By preparing patients beforehand, the Center helps make the appointments efficient and allows more people to seek care. And by sharing the videos on the Center’s YouTube channel (LAGayCenter), the Center is providing trans people around the world with medically accurate information that’s difficult to find elsewhere.
For the trans community, leading-edge quality medical care and reliable medical information are just what the doctor ordered. For more information about the Transgender Health Program, visit lagaycenter.org/transhealth.
Traci Dinwiddie, star of lesbian film Elena Undone, is AIDS/LifeCycle’s most successful female fundraiser ever. With more than $70,000 raised at press time, she’s this year’s secondhighest fundraiser. (The highest is Tom Swan, the ride’s No. 1 fundraiser of all time; Swan had exceeded $110,000 at press time.)
And first-time rider Dinwiddie isn’t slowing down in the final weeks before June 2, when she and 2,000+ other riders will begin the seven-day bike ride from San Francisco to L.A. She’s set her sights on raising $100,000!
Vanguard sat down with Dinwiddie to ask her about her lofty fundraising goal.
Q: We were so excited to hear you were doing the ride because we loved you in Elena Undone! We already know you’re a talented actress—but we’d love to hear what your life is like when
you’re not on camera.
A: Well, I’ve jokingly referred to myself as a parttime badass and full-time fruitcake. By trade, I’m an actress (often playing badasses). The real me, however, is a silly nut who enjoys a good laugh more than anything.
My off-camera days are filled with aerial training on the trapeze bar, making ridiculous “Moustache Monday” videos (which you can see at youtube.com/user/tracidinwiddie), lots of outdoor adventures, and writing.
I’m developing a web series that is jam-packed with good-natured humor and a touch of heroism to boot.
Q: All AIDS/LifeCycle riders (and the volunteer Roadies!) are heroes in our eyes. We’re really grateful to the fundraising superstars like you! What’s your secret?
A: Perhaps it is beginner’s luck? Honestly, I have no secret. Just passion for the cause. I’m learning how to ask BIG without any apologies or hesitation. I’ve also got the most amazing cyber tribe of “T-bugs,” which is an affectionate term I use to refer to my fans. They have supported me every step of the way. When I send out a call to action, they are the first to step up, contribute and spread the word.
I’m so appreciative of each one of the hundreds of people who have donated, whether they give $25, $250 or more. Every dollar makes a difference!
Q: People do AIDS/LifeCycle for so many different reasons. What’s your motivation to do the ride and to raise so much money for
A: I ride for so many reasons. I ride in honor of many friends who’ve lost their lives to AIDS. I ride for my sober sisters and brothers who are living with HIV. I ride to contribute to my community. I ride for the good work that the Center is doing to help those living with HIV/AIDS. I ride to bring awareness to this seemingly forgotten disease. I ride to help fight stigma against HIVpositive people.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the ride?
A: It’s already been spectacular with all of the new friends I’m making on training rides and at AIDS/LifeCycle events. Still, I’m eager to feel the electric excitement of the rollout on the first day of the ride.
I look forward to those completely unplanned but absolutely perfect moments that all of my seasoned AIDS/LifeCycle buddies have been telling me about!
By Manny Sanchez
Just about everyone uses Google Maps. But did you know Maps also provides virtual photography tours of select locations? And now, two of the Center’s four locations are among them.
While many people are familiar with our McDonald/Wright headquarters building, where we offer counseling, medical care, HIV/STD testing and more, the Center has three other facilities where it provides services and programs—two of which you can now visit from your computer or
mobile device: The Village at Ed Gould Plaza and The Spot.
Thanks to a collaboration with photographers Benjamin Price and Yesenia Higuera of The Hive, an L.A.-based production company that boasts clients like Amazon.com and EPSON America, these two facilities can now be explored through Google’s newest venture: Google
This latest innovation, based on Google’s popular “Street View” feature, lets users explore interactive images of locations and their surroundings. With Google Virtual Tours, that technology is being used to give viewers an in-depth look inside the organizations and businesses on those streets.
Now, online visitors can virtually experience The Village’s two theaters, art galleries, courtyard, meeting rooms and much more. They can also check out the Center’s West Hollywood facility for HIV/STD testing—The Spot—where it offers free, convenient and rapid testing. Though technology hasn’t given us the ability to offer HIV tests online or teleport
us across continents (yet), Google’s Virtual Tour of our Village and Spot facilities gives people a sneak peek of the Center whether they’re down the street or across the globe.
By Jake Finney
Like it or not, words have power.
That’s why the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s “Think Before You Speak” campaign decries using the word “gay” in a derogatory way.
Most of us acknowledge that the phrase “that’s so gay” is derogatory because it equates being gay with being stupid or strange. But what about the harm caused to trans* people—and especially trans youth—when people use the derogatory slur “tranny,” often equated with someone who’s a “mess” (as in the phrase “hot tranny mess” used by Project Runway star Christian Siriano).
There have been a few knockdown, drag-out fights within the LGBTQ community over the use of the word “tranny.” On one side, trans activists and their allies contend that the “T-word” is a slur used to dehumanize trans people. Others, frequently gay men (including drag queens), fire back with arguments like: “It’s just a joke.” “Don’t be so sensitive/P.C.”
Or my personal favorite: “It’s just a word.”
The T-word has a long history of being tossed around in both media and casual conversation.
Some wonder why it’s “suddenly” a slur, but the truth is that it has always been derogatory. A Google search of “tranny” brings up 169 million hits—the vast majority from online porn that is also tied with the equally derogatory term “she-male.” When someone says “tranny,” they’re
using a term frequently used to degrade women who happen to be trans.
And this hurtful word isn’t only being used to deride trans adults but also trans youth, as my colleague Sara Train, who has led workshops in schools all over California, can attest.
Train is the coordinator of Project SPIN, a multi-agency, Center-led collaboration with the L.A. Unified School District to make schools safer and more welcoming for LGBT youth. She says that students hear just as many put-downs related to gender identity as to sexual orientation. Trans
youth, or youth who otherwise don’t conform to social gender norms, are derided with terms such as “tranny” and “he-she.” They are even dehumanized by being called “it.”
While there is no proven direct link between bullying and suicide, it must be noted that trans youth face a tremendous risk. Half will attempt suicide at least once before their 20th birthday. We should strive to make these young people’s lives better and make sure they have access to the
support they need. And we shouldn’t excuse language that’s used to belittle and hurt them.
So what’s changed is not that “tranny” is suddenly a slur; what’s changed is that trans people are finally feeling empowered enough to stand up and demand that they be treated with human dignity.
It’s time to take “tranny” out of our lexicon.
By Manny Sanchez
The interests of Frank Pond—the Center’s newest board member— have taken him to exotic destinations (like the rainforests of Borneo with the Orangutan Foundation International), and he’s always kept his finger on the pulse of progressive causes.
As a trial lawyer and co-founder/owner of Pond North LLP, he represents Fortune 100 corporations and “Mom and Pop” establishments in jury trials dealing with environmental claims.
As an advocate, Pond worked with the Clinton Administration on behalf of an ad hoc group of progressive and LGBT organizations. He was on the forefront of the fight to allow members of the armed services to be openly gay, serving as a volunteer legal director for the group Campaign for Military Service.
“After touring the Center and meeting with Lorri Jean, I knew I’d found my
charitable home,” Pond says. “I’m so proud and honored to serve on the board of an organization that’s doing such incredible work for so many people.”
In his spare time, Pond writes about his passions—travel, politics and wine—for progressivepulse.com.
Contact: Christopher Jones
LOS ANGELES, April 22, 2013–The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center announced today that it’s partnering with the American Cancer Society to help recruit gay, bisexual, and transgender adults for a study that could lead to valuable insights about cancer in the LGBT community.
For the next 20 years, the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3) will collect information from 300,000 adult men and women between the ages of 30 and 65 years with no personal history of cancer. And for the first time in a major study, the American Cancer Society will ask enrollees to identify as straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual.
“This is a simple and easy opportunity to participate in a landmark study that may provide us valuable information about cancer risks in the LGBT community and open the door to more sexual minority-specific medical research,” said Risa Flynn, research program manager at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.
According to the American Cancer Society, lesbians and gay men may be at greater risk for cancer due to multiple risk factors, including increased cigarette use. In California, smoking prevalence for gay men is about 50% higher than that of men in the general population (27.4% vs. 19.1%)
Research shows that smoking causes 80 percent of all lung cancers and current evidence suggests lesbians and gay men are more likely to smoke than heterosexual men and women.1 2 Several studies also suggest that lesbians and bisexual women get less routine care than other women, including breast and cervical cancer screening.3 Economic data shows that much of the gay and lesbian community is “medically underserved,” which increases the risk of developing and dying of cancer.
“This study is extremely important to further our understanding not only of what factors cause cancer, but the processes by which cancer develops,” said Flynn. “It’s not possible to effectively study a demographic if there aren’t enough members of that demographic enrolled in the study, so I think we have a great responsibility to participate in CPS-3.”
Like similar major studies, CPS-3 will enroll and track a diverse group of 500,000 men and women from across the U.S. (including LGBT individuals) for the next 20+ years to help researchers understand how lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors may prevent or cause cancer.
Previous studies have demonstrated links between cancer and tobacco, second-hand smoke, obesity, diet and physical activity. Results have influenced the Surgeon General’s Report on tobacco, indoor smoking laws, and healthy eating and physical activity guidelines.
Enrollment in CPS-3 is a simple, two-phase process: a survey to fill out at home and a 20- to 30-minute visit at participating sites, where individuals will be asked to read and sign an informed consent form, complete a brief written survey, provide waist measurement and give a small blood sample (drawn by a trained, certified phlebotomist).
The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center is scheduling 30-minute appointments for Saturday, April 27 between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Individuals should schedule their appointments at http://cps3la.org/.
After enrollment, study participants will be expected to complete mailed questionnaires every two years (questionnaire information is kept strictly confidential and used for medical and statistical purposes only). Researchers will stay in touch with all CPS-3 participants through a variety of communications, including newsletters and emails.
For more information or to learn how to participate, visit http://cps3la.org/, e-mail cps3@cancer org or call 888-604-5888.
About the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
For more than 40 years, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center has been building the health, advocating for the rights and enriching the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Our wide array of services and programs includes: free HIV/AIDS care and medications for those most in need; housing, food, clothing and support for homeless LGBT youth; low-cost counseling and addiction-recovery services; essential services for LGBT-parented families and seniors; legal services; health education and HIV prevention programs; transgender services; cultural arts and much more. Visit us on the web at: www.lagaycenter.org.
1 Haynes, S., Breast Cancer Risk: Comparisons of Lesbians and Heterosexual Women, Cancer and Cancer Risks Among Lesbians, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Community Liaison Program, Seattle, 1995.
2 Stall RD, Greenwood GL, Acree M, Paul J, Coates TJ. “Cigarette Smoking Among Gay and Bisexual Men,” Am J Public Health 89, no. 12 (1999): 151-60.
3 Cochran SD, Mays VM, Bowen D, Gage S, et al. Cancer related risk indicators and preventive screening behaviors among lesbians and bisexual women. Am J Public Health. Washington: April 2001. Vol 91, Iss. 4; pg. 591, 7 pgs.
Contact: Jim Key
LOS ANGELES, April 12, 2013—L.A. County health officials have reported a single case of bacterial meningitis in a man, known to be a gay resident of West Hollywood, who has reportedly died from it today. In New York City there is an outbreak of bacterial meningitis among gay men that has resulted in 22 infections and seven deaths since 2010. It’s not known whether the strain that infected the West Hollywood resident is the same as the New York strain.
“It’s important to note that this is just one case, but the Center has called on the L.A. County Department of Public Health (DPH) to conduct a rapid and thorough investigation,” said Center Director of Medical Services Dr. Bob Bolan, “and we’ve been told they have already begun tracking those who may have been exposed by the person who died today.”
Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial infection disease that causes the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed. As many as 1 in 5 people who develop this meningitis have serious complications, including brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities and death. If caught early, it can be effectively treated with antibiotics.
“Meningococcal meningitis can be prevented by a vaccine that is available at some local pharmacies and clinics. It is covered by some insurance plans or available for purchase at a cost of approximately $125,” said Bolan. “We’ve asked DPH to give supplies of the vaccine to community clinics like the Center’s so we can vaccinate those who want it and who are uninsured and can’t afford it. We want to prevent a public health concern from potentially becoming a public health crisis.”
Meningitis can be spread through close contact with someone who is infected, especially through coughing, sneezing, and intimate contact like kissing. Symptoms usually develop over seven to ten days and may include fever, severe headaches and a stiff neck as well as nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, confusion or decreased level of consciousness. People who have a compromised immune system, including those who are HIV-positive, may be at greater risk of infection. Those who experience symptoms and believe they may have been infected should call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.
The Center asks the community to stay informed and is sharing, via its website (www.lagaycenter.org), a page of “Frequently Asked Questions” about the situation and bacterial meningitis. It will be updated as new information becomes available.
About the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
For more than 40 years, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center has been building the health, advocating for the rights and enriching the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Our wide array of services and programs includes: free HIV/AIDS care and medications for those most in need; housing, food, clothing and support for homeless LGBT youth; low-cost counseling and addiction-recovery services; essential services for LGBT-parented families and seniors; legal services; health education and HIV prevention programs; transgender services; cultural arts and much more. Visit us on the web at: .