By Jorge Paniagua
It took months, but advocates a part of the Los Angeles LGBT Center are celebrating a substantial win for the Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer women’s community.
Gov. Gavin Newsom recently approved a $17.5 million fund to create the Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer (LBQ) Women’s Healthy Equity Fund under the California Department of Health, as reported in a press release by The Center.
“The Center worked with a coalition of service providers and advocates to do direct advocacy with California legislators, held phone banks and letter writing events and the first LBQ Women’s Health Day of Advocacy at the capitol,” Director of Government Relations for The Center, Aaron Fox, said. “The process was extremely rewarding for advocates and impacted community members who were able to increase the awareness of LBQ women’s health disparities through telling their own stories.”
The new health equity fund is meant to support LBQ women’s access to healthcare and mental care, domestic violence programs and substance abuse programs. Moreover, the fund aims to implement training for healthcare providers to better promote community outreach efforts and research into LBQ women’s healthcare needs, according to The Center.
“Along with empowering LBQ women through increasing health literacy, the funding will also create programs that link LBQ women with community-identified culturally competent healthcare providers,” Fox said. “In addition, new programming will include a provider education initiative that aims to increase provider competency and reduce incidence of discrimination.”
One in two LBQ women have faced discrimination in a healthcare setting, according to The Center. Furthermore, nearly 30 percent of LBQ community members have reported not visiting their healthcare providers — even if they’re insured — as a result of either fearing discrimination or a lack of access to healthcare appropriate for LBQ women. LBQ women of color, elderly LBQ adults and transgender LBQ women face an elevated risk for this kind of intolerance.
In a study conducted by The Center for American Progress, a public policy research and advocacy organization, researchers found that 29 percent of transgender people said a doctor or other healthcare provider refused to see them because of their actual or perceived gender identity. 12 percent of trangsender surveyees mentioned that their healthcare provider completely refused to provide services related to gender confirmation.
“The coalition’s proposal will create demonstration projects that allow communities to create their own innovative linkage-to-care programs to increase access and utilization of a variety of health services,” Fox said. “Individual projects across California may look different as the health needs of LBQ women vary.”
Funding for the health equity fund was signed in the new state budget by Gov. Newsom. It’s the first time a health equity fund of its kind, aimed directly for LBQ women’s health, has been signed into effect by any state in the nation’s history.
“This is a significant first step in reducing LBQ women’s health disparities in California,” Fox said. “It is by no means the solution that will require more targeted funding and structural interventions addressing the social determinants of health.”
For more information, regarding the Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer (LBQ) Women’s Healthy Equity Fund signed into state legislature, visit lalgbtcenter.org.