LGBTQ to Trump: "Why Don't We Belong?"

LGBTQ to Trump: "Why Don't We Belong?"

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SANTA ANA, Calif. -- The past seven months have been traumatic for the LGBTQ community. Within a day of Pres. Trump’s inauguration, the White House LGBT and HIV pages were taken down. A couple of weeks ago, Trump directed the military not to allow transgender individuals to be recruited into the armed forces, following through on his intentions announced through a tweet a month earlier to ban LGBTQ from serving.

The memorandum also bans the Department of Defense from using taxpayer money for gender transition and hormone therapy services.

All of us at the LGBT Center of Orange County – one of the oldest gay and lesbian centers in the country -- couldn’t believe it. How could he judge us merely by our sexual orientation and gender identity? Doesn’t he know we are just as patriotic as anyone else?

I became a health care advocate back in 2012 because in my own transition I encountered a lot of pushback from the insurance companies and the medical community. I thought if this was happening to me it could happen to other members of the LGBT community. We have made great strides in California, but all that now seems in jeopardy.


Calls to our center have spiked with our front desk fielding around 700 calls a month, an increase of 150 calls since the new administration. People ask, “Where do I stand with my health care? Where do I stand with my hormones? Will I be able to continue getting sex change surgeries?” The most disheartening question recently came from a transgender youth. “Why,” he asked, “does my country not want me?”

It is largely due to myths and lies that the many intersectionalities of the LGBT population have not been able to receive competent and affirming medical care. Immigrants from various countries are fearful to step foot in community health centers out of fear of being reported and deported, sex workers are fearful of being judged and possibly mistreated and/or even sexually assaulted due to their profession, most physicians aren’t competent on the health care needs of the LGB community and HIV treatment and prevention, most physicians aren’t knowledgeable about Transgender health care and disparities as well. In our semi-conservative county, some physicians even turn away LGBT identifiable patients because of their personal beliefs.

We need to quell the myths, lies and fears surrounding the LGBT population among the general public. Equally important, we need those in the health care profession – physicians, physician assistants, office staff, nurses – to be more user friendly for us. And we need to communicate with our local elected representatives.

Finally, we need to pressure top lawmakers to speak out against bigotry and racial hatred that are engulfing our county. We want funding for HIV prevention to be restored. We want the LGBT page back up on the White House website. We want the federal government to recognize that there is a problem with hate crimes against the LGBT community, especially trans-women of color.

Why should I have to keep telling people that we are regular human beings who put our pants on one leg at a time. That our lives matter, that our health matters. That we belong to this country just as much as they do.


Photo credits: Patrick Castro