Transgender Exclusion from LGB Health Report

In the District of Columbia, the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs released a report on the health of gay, lesbian, and bisexual residents. The report was the first of its kind in D.C. and the conclusions provided could help in addressing the health needs of the community. But the report has one important problem: it contains no information on transgender residents.

The report is called the “LGB Health 2010 Report.” One of the limitations included at the end of the report is that “there were no questions asked about transgender residents.” Why were transgender residents left out of the survey? Last I checked, we’re the LGBT community, not the LGB community.

The transgender population is an important segment of the LGBT community, and faces many similar health concerns to the gay, lesbian, and bisexual populations. The transgender community experiences significant health disparities that should have been analyzed in the report.

The director of the Office of GLBT affairs, Christopher Dyer, commented that he understands why people feel he failed the transgender community but that he will “continue to provide the outreach and the work that [he] can.”

But is that enough? Why wouldn’t a survey on LGB people address the transgender population also? The department should have put forth effort to provide resources on transgender health.

The report surveyed 6,218 residents of Washington, D.C. Of those surveyed, 90 percent identified as heterosexual, 4.5 percent identified as gay or lesbian, and 2.3 percent identified as bisexual or “other.” But nobody identified as transgender, because that category wasn’t included in the survey.

The report relies on data from the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which tracks health conditions via random phone surveys. The report used data collected between 2005 and 2007, when gender identity wasn’t on the CDC’s radar. Dyer says the CDC has to approve the gender identity question for the D.C. survey and that D.C. won’t have the opportunity to request the question until January 2011.

Nice excuse. But the report could have included information on transgender health from other existing research, rather than completely excluding the transgender population.

Photo credit: jerekys