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Step Up Your Game

Here’s the affirmation: “All persons have the potential to live fully functioning and emotionally healthy lives throughout the lifespan along the full spectrum of gender identity and gender expression.” That’s a quote from the newly released "ALGBTIC Competencies for Counseling Transgender Clients." (ALGBTIC is a division of the American Counseling Association.)

Here’s the reality or, rather, one piece of it: “In California, transgender female clients of publicly-funded counseling and testing sites have higher rates of HIV diagnosis (6%) than all other risk categories, including MSM (4%) and partners of people living with HIV (5%), and African American transgender women have a substantially higher rate of HIV diagnosis (29%) than all other racial or ethnic groups of transwomen (16). Estimates from California’s urban centers also suggest that HIV prevalence rates among transgender women are extremely high, especially for transgender women of color and African American transgender women in particular (2, 15)...” And that’s from a 2008 study called "Serving Transgender People in California: Assessing Progress, Advancing Excellence."

So here’s a little something you can do: attend the 1st Annual Alameda County Transgender Health and Resource Conference, on Friday, May 15th, from 10 AM to 4 PM, Preservation Park - Nile Hall, 1233 Preservation Park Way, Oakland, CA. According to Tiffany Woods, conference organizer and program director of TransVision, the conference is “a day of visibility and empowerment” for the East Bay trans community and is designed to bring trans-identified people into contact with service and resource providers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. I am planning to attend. 

The event is endorsed by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-9), Congressman George Miller (D-7), and Senator Ellen Corbett (D-10). A representative from Congressman Miller's office will be attending, however, due to scheduling conflicts; Senator Corbett will not be to attend.

I spoke with Tiffany Woods late Friday afternoon as she was attempting to run a zillion photocopies on a machine that would only make 25 at a time. She was good enough to offer her thoughts on the upcoming conference. The conference is a collaboration of TransVision (located at 39184 State Street, Fremont), Tri-City Health Center and Kaiser Permanente. Tiffany expects an attendance of close to 200 people, many of them established service providers or people who are interested in serving the trans community in the future. She said there are about 20 East Bay providers and organizations set to table. 

Though the Bay Area is comparatively rich in resources for transgender people (compared to other parts of the U.S.), most are located in San Francisco. By comparison, Tiffany said there are not enough services for trans people in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Those that do exist tend to be located in Berkeley and Oakland. Tiffany says that many of the transgender women, especially the women of color, do not have the funds to take BART or drive across the bay to access services in San Francisco. Tiffany also said that many trans people in East Bay communities are reluctant to step beyond their established social networks to go elsewhere for services. I have to think safety concerns are part of this reluctance. Tiffany says the exceptions are the “young, trans and gender queer” kids of Berkeley, who seem to feel more comfortable with the commute.

TransVision is unique in serving the trans community in southern Alameda country. It offers a special HIV prevention, testing and treatment programs for transwomen (remember the stats in the second paragraph?) as well as hormone consultation and a range of medical services for both transmen and transwomen (including HIV, Hepatitis, and other STIs). If you do not have medical insurance, this is the place to go. If you have Medi-Cal, it’s accepted. TransVision also conducts sensitivity training for service providers as well as workshops and community events such as the Transgender Day of Remembrance (observed internationally on November 20th). 

Tiffany says she is “surprised by how many non-trans service providers want to attend.” And she points out that while there’s a big need to move beyond “Trans 101,” there’s a “big thirst” for that very information. However, Tiffany points out that would-be service providers need to “get it and step up their game.” In other words, get educated in the basics ASAP, but don’t stop there. I’ll say it again: find a place or a way to start your learning and then don’t ever stop. 

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I suppose I could've written

I suppose I could've written that sequel to Ehrenreich's opus, being both a teacher and a sex worker. But then I'd have to be taken seriously first *snickers* ... Personally, I'll settle for more clients.

Me too!!!

Yeah, I'm with you on that one! More clients would be GREAT! Thanks for writing!

Amy

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Amy Marsh
May 12th, 2010
Amy Marsh's picture
I mark this sad ending of Carnal Nation with great, great appreciation for the opportunity I've had to write for CN and work with all the fantastic people here. Much love to all of you: readers,...

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