March 5, 2017 at 7:00 am EST | by Staff reports
Texas bill to address trans health shortcomings
transgender, Gender Conference East, trans, transgender health care, transgender flag, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

AUSTIN, Texas — A bill that has been filed in Texas is designed to address problems transgender people have in receiving acceptable health care, My Statesmen, a central Texas news agency, reports.

House Bill 943, introduced by Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin), a former nurse, would establish a statewide Transgender Health Care Advisory Committee comprised of 15 people from LGBT rights groups, representatives from public universities and physicians with experience working with transgender people, the Statesman reports.

The committee would be the first of its kind to advise state officials on transgender health care, and recommendations could lead to enacting continuing education programs for doctors. The committee would submit a report to Gov. Greg Abbott and other state officials by Aug. 31, 2018.

There are currently 58 health care-related advisory committees that fall under the Texas Health and Human Services System. Committees provide state officials guidance, and agency staff are present in many meetings to take recommendations into consideration, according to Health and Human Services Commission spokeswoman Christine Mann, the Statesman reports.

The idea for HB 943 followed conversations between members of LGBT advocacy groups and Howard’s staff, who heard stories of transgender men and women being turned away for common problems — such as abdominal pain — because of a lack of knowledge of the patient’s “full history.”

In Texas, 30 percent of transgender people reported having at least one negative experience related to their gender identity when seeking health care services in the past year. This includes being verbally or physically harassed, assaulted or even being refused treatment altogether, according to results from a national survey released last month from the National Center for Transgender Equality.

The survey, which polled 1,490 transgender Texans and 27,715 people across the country, found that 22 percent of Texas respondents reported they declined to seek a physician when they were in need of services out of fear of being turned away or not receiving quality health care services because of their gender identity, My Statesman reports.

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