New York public high school students had the day off Monday, but a group of about 630 students and teachers still gathered at Stuyvesant High School. They were participating in city’s first Gender and Sexuality Alliance summit, sponsored by the local Department of Education.

In the school’s auditorium, student whispers echoed from wall to wall. On stage, openly gay former professional football player Wade Davis told how he spent years as a closeted athlete, before eventually coming to terms with his sexual identity.

“When did you learn you were enough for yourself?” a teenager timidly stood up to ask him.

“Honestly, I’m still learning if I’m being honest,” Davis responded. 

It’s been a bleak year for LBGTQ youth around the country. Hate crimes against LGBTQ people have creeped upwards. The Trump administration has worked to actively dismantle the rights of trans students

But in New York, the education department has been working to help LGBTQ students better advocate for themselves.

The summit was organized by the city school district’s first LGBTQ community liaison, Jared Fox. It featured dozens of workshops on topics such as interacting with police, body image, grassroots organizing, and consent in sexual encounters. Classrooms were labeled with names of LBGTQ icons, like author James Baldwin and tennis star Billie Jean King. A school hang out spot became a coffee shop named for feminist writer and civil rights activist Audre Lorde. 

In a workshop hosted by LGBT New York Police Department officers, teens asked officers about their experiences being gay in the force.

“There’s a stereotype of what are you doing here, this is not the place for you,” said officer Aaron Ayala, before telling the students about the department’s internal fraternal societies.

“Ours is an adult GSA” (Gay-Straight Alliance club), Ayala said.

The day’s participants included middle school students. They did not have the day off from classes, so they attended as a field trip.

The afternoon’s events topped off with a drag queen story hour, dance party, and appearance by New York’s first lady, Chirlane McCray. 

“The number of young people who felt inspired and adults who never could have imagined something like this happening in their lifetimes was amazing,” Fox said.

A transgender Cincinnati teenager wants hormone therapy and to remain living with his grandparents.

The teen's parents denied that he is transgender and refused to let his counseling at Cincinnati Children's Hospital continue.

Now, a Hamilton County judge will decide what’s best for the teen.

According to a complaint filed in juvenile court, the now-17-year-old's parents prefer Christian therapy over hormone therapy.

The teen has been diagnosed with anxiety, depression and gender dysphoria.

"My client deserves a loving and supportive home.My client deserves some hope in his life," attorney Tom Mellott said.

Documents reveal that the teen claims he feared for his safety while living at home with his mother and father.

"A reasonable parent, however, your honor, would never tell their own child to kill themselves because they were going to hell anyway. A reasonable parent would never instill terror into the mind of their child," said Donald Clancy, an attorney for the state.

The grandparents were in the courtroom Friday, advocating to have the teen remain in their custody.

"They are the only family members that have provided acceptance and support that most probably kept this child from taking his own life. Excuse the melodrama, your honor, but these people are heroes," Clancy said.

Court records reveal the parents pulled their child from counseling at Children's Hospital to seek a Christian therapist. They also forced him to listen to Bible Scriptures for six hours or more at a time.

"The child has stated, 'I don't want to go back home. When I was home, dad chased me around the house. When I was home, I lived in terror,'" said Jeff Cutcher, an attorney for the grandparents.

"Pretty much everything the parents say or don't say is taken out of context, twisted, exaggerated, blown out of proportion and then improperly used against them," said Karen Brinkman, an attorney for the teen's parents.

Attorneys for the teen said the child cried and screamed in the fetal position when he saw his birth name on documents, and that the best option is to hand custody to his grandparents.

"Your honor, what we want to do in the coming months is, around May, plan for a high school graduation; throughout the summer and fall, plan for entrance into college. We don't want to be planning a funeral," Cutcher said.

A judge plans to issue a decision on the case no later than Feb. 16.

"There are simply are not enough physicians comfortable with treating transgender patients," according to Joshua D. Safer, MD, FACP, associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM). To begin to address this issue, BUSM has created a medical school elective that combines the standard approach of teaching about transgender medical topics with sensitivity and appropriate terminology with evidence-based hands-on patient care.

"We have seen that lack of knowledgeable medical providers remains the most reported barrier to good care for transgender patients. Direct care experiences with transgender patients not only increases the confidence of medical providers in providing care, but more importantly provides the patient with a better experience," added Safer, who also is medical director of the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Boston Medical Center.

Transgender individuals are medically underserved in the U.S. and face many documented disparities in care due to the providers' lack of education, training and comfort. When educating medical professionals regarding transgender medicine much attention has focused on terminology and on health care disparities suffered by transgender individuals. Specific transgender medicine content in a medical school curriculum has demonstrated that it increases a students' willingness to treat transgender patients. Still, those same students are less comfortable with transgender care relative to care for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) patients.

BUSM students who participated in the standard transgender care curriculum were offered the opportunity to participate in a subsequent clinical elective providing direct care to transgender individuals. Students were surveyed before and after their elective experience regarding knowledge and comfort with transgender medical care.After completing the elective, students who reported "high" comfort increased from 45 percent to 80 percent and students who reported "high" knowledge regarding management of transgender patients increased from 0 to 85 percent. Even motivated students who already were interested in transgender care and who already rated themselves well with transgender care saw large improvements in their scores after the direct patient care experience.

According to the researchers, it is insufficient to limit health care provider training to cultural sensitivity and to didactic teaching alone. Direct patient care experiences are necessary in transgender medicine.

"Previously, we have piloted and demonstrated the benefit of teaching transgender medicine in a format similar to how other medical topics are taught, that is, with the current science and evidence-based approaches. We have demonstrated that benefit above what is seen with students who only receive the standard teaching. The circumstance is improved further, when the students have direct care experiences," explained corresponding author Safer.

Safer believes the existing medical teaching model using evidence-based teaching along with direct patient care experiences works well for transgender medicine. "Opportunities to mandate such teaching should be sought for all medical schools."

Transgender patients often travel long distances and pay more for less-than-competent medical care. But as doctors embrace virtual treatment models, those problems may soon be obsolete.


M, who is non-binary and transgender, first sought care for gender dysphoria at their local Planned Parenthood clinic in South Carolina. (Because M has not disclosed their transgender status at work, they requested anonymity for this story.) The staff there was very caring, they said, but the clinic was underfunded and understaffed, with a long waiting list for follow-up appointments. "It was almost like musical chairs," said M, "with more people than seats." When M began taking hormone therapy for gender transition, delays in care led to month-long lapses in hormone prescriptions, resulting in an emotional and physical roller coaste 

The demand for affirming, competent transgender care far outsrips what’s available, and in rural areas, physicians able to provide that care are often fewand far between. By bringing doctors as close to patients as their nearest high-speed internet connection, telehealth offers a potential solution to that gap.

On the whole, transgender people travel further and receive less insurance coverage for their healthcare than do other sexual minorities. A study of rural sexual minorities found that 14 percent of transgender and non-binary people lived more than an hour's drive from their primary care providers, compared to only 5 percent of their gay, cisgender counterparts. And respondents to the 2015 US Transgender Survey said they were more likely to travel long distances for transition-related care than for routine care.

Other studies have show that transgender people were much more likely than cisgender people to have no health insurance, and about a quarter of those responding to a question about barriers to care reported the cost of gender-confirmation therapy (including hormonal and/or surgical therapy) was the main problem in not receiving it.

Once they make it into a provider's office, transgender patients are likely to have a negative experience related to their transgender status. According to the US Transgender Survey, one third of respondents who had seen a healthcare provider in the past year reported having a negative experience with a provider related to being transgender, and almost a quarter said they'd avoided seeking needed health care due to fear of being mistreated on the basis of their gender identity.

The American Academy of Family Physicians and other associations of primary care physicians are increasingly encouraging their members to provide transition-related care to patients with gender dysphoria. But many unspecialized physicians hesitate, citing fear of making mistakes and lack of knowledge, and in some cases, acknowledging bias.

As a result of all of these factors, transgender people living in rural and exurban areas are often faced with a vacuum of physicians willing to perform the bread-and-butter work of transition-related care: prescribing and adjusting hormone replacement therapy and related medication, ordering and reviewing laboratory results, responding to concerns about medication side effects, and monitoring patients' overall health within the context of transition. And while medical educators are beginning to catch up with the demand for trans-competent doctors, there’s still a long way to go.

A transgender activist who made waves last year for confronting Caitlyn Jenner is running for public office. 

Following the resignation of California Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, Ashlee Marie Preston announced Dec. 30 that she plans to run for the District 54 seat. If elected, she would represent Century City, Westwood and a number of other Los Angeles neighborhoods. 

"As someone directly impacted by the issues that often diminish the quality of life, I have an acute understanding of which policies must be put into play in order to move progress forward for the constituents of the 54th district and beyond. I believe in prioritizing people over politics,” Preston, who previously served as the editor-in-chief of Wear Your Voice magazine, said in a press release cited by The Advocate. “We are more than poll percentage points; we are real people with real stories.”

“I fully intend to continue honoring those experiences, and advocating for those who don’t have a seat at the table,” she added. 

Preston gained widespread attention after she was seen confronting Jenner at a Trans Chorus of Los Angeles event in August. The activist, who has reportedly served on the boards of the Transgender Service Provider Network and the Human Rights Campaign, blasted Jenner, a longtime Republican, for her support of President Donald Trump

“You’re a fucking fraud,” Preston told Jenner at the time. “It’s really fucked up that you continue to support somebody ... that’s erasing our fucking community. And you support it!”

In an interview with HuffPost after the incident, Preston said she believed that Jenner “owes the [transgender] community an apology” for backing Trump, who has rescinded federal guidance on protections for trans students against discrimination and attempted to ban trans recruits from the U.S. military. 

“Caitlyn Jenner is a text book case on cognitive dissonance and her vote against her own supposed interests made that evident,” Preston said. “Her commentary and actions have carried real consequences for the transgender community; people who aren’t afforded the same protections and privilege as she has.”

In September, Preston was named one of The Root’s 100 Most Influential African-Americans of 2017. If elected, she has said she plans to address issues of police brutality, trans discrimination and immigration. 

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