February 18, 2015 at 4:01 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. conducting ‘first-ever’ health survey to include trans data
health survey, gay news, Washington Blade

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of LGBT Affairs has announced a new health survey initiative aimed at the LGBT community. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs, the D.C. Department of Health, and a private research organization are teaming up to conduct a comprehensive health survey “for LGBT individuals living in the District of Columbia,” according to a letter urging LGBT residents to take the survey.

The letter is co-signed by Sheila Alexander-Reid, director of the Office of GLBT Affairs, and Jeffrey Poirier, an official with the American Institutes for Research (AIR), an international not-for-profit organization that the D.C. government has retained to carry out the survey.

“As you may know, there has been very little research on the LGBT community in the District of Columbia, and the 2015 GLBT Health Survey is greatly needed to inform health advocacy initiatives targeting the LGBT community,” Alexander-Reid and Poirier said in their letter, which is undated.

“The survey results will be used to inform organizations that develop initiatives to address specific health needs of the LGBT community, develop targeted prevention and care strategies, and form health policy priorities within the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs,” the letter says.

The latest survey follows a 2010 health survey prepared jointly by the DOH and the GLBT Affairs Office under Mayor Adrian Fenty that included data limited to gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals. The 2010 survey drew criticism from transgender activists, who questioned why data on the trans community was omitted from the survey.

Gay activist Christopher Dyer, who headed the GLBT Affairs office at the time, apologized for the omission of trans data. He told activists the report at the time only had access to data collected by the DOH, which was limited to a standard, “scientifically” developed health questionnaire provided to the city by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That questionnaire covered only “sexual orientation” and not gender identity and expression.

The current survey being conducted by DOH, the GLBT Affairs Office and AIR was initiated by Mayor Vincent Gray’s administration under then GLBT Affairs Office director Sterling Washington. It represents the first such study in D.C. that will collect health-related data on transgender residents.

According to the letter by Alexander-Reid and Poirier, the identity of those taking the survey by answering an online questionnaire will be kept strictly confidential. The letter doesn’t disclose the questions participants will be asked in the survey other than that they will be urged to identify other LGBT people who might agree to participate in the survey.

“At the end of the survey, we will ask you to estimate the number of people that you know in the District of Columbia LGBT community and provide the names and contact information (email address, telephone number, or mailing address) for three of these people,” the letter says.

The letter says additional information about the survey can be obtained by contacting AIR official Lisa Peterson at 866-261-2295 or by emailing AIR at glbtsurvey@air.org.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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