One Colorado’s Focus on Transgender Health During LGBTQ Health Awareness Week

Denver, CO — One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Coloradans and their families, released the following statements on transgender health during LGBTQ Health Awareness Week:

“Transgender Coloradans experience discrimination and harassment at higher rates than their LGBQ counterparts. We’ve seen legislation this year that seeks to deny the existence and prevent necessary, life-saving medical treatment for transgender Coloradans, especially our youth. During LGBTQ Health Awareness Week, we need to acknowledge these disparities and continue the work of increasing awareness, access, and affordability of trans-related health care.”

– Daniel Ramos, One Colorado Executive Director

“Access to culturally responsive and clinically competent care is especially important for transgender Coloradans because health care settings are vulnerable places. We need to know that we will be respected, and that we will have access to the care that our bodies and our identities require. We have to trust that our health care concerns will be met with knowledge and understanding, and when there is a lack of knowledge, a willingness to learn together instead of a demand for patients to teach their providers.”

– Anaya Robinson, Transformative Freedom Fund Co-Founder

“The murders of black transgender women is becoming a crisis in this country. Fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color at the intersections of racism, sexism, and transphobia. At least 30 transgender victims were violently murdered in the United States in 2019. No one should ever be excused from murder because their victim is gay or transgender, and Colorado must send an indisputable message that we fully value the lives and dignity of all people, including black transgender women.”

– Representative Leslie Herod (D- Denver)

Resources for transgender Coloradans and their families:

One Colorado launched into LGBTQ Health Awareness Week on March 20th, by hosting the first of three virtual ‘What the LGBTQ Health?’ Closing the Gap Statewide Tour learning and discussion events. ‘What the LBGTQ Health’ was initially planned as a traveling tour with twelve stops across Colorado, but is postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. LGBTQ individuals have increased vulnerability to COVID-19 due to three factors:

  1. The LGBTQ population uses tobacco at rates that are 50% higher than the general population. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers.

  2. The LGBTQ population has higher rates of HIV and cancer, which means a greater number of us may have compromised immune systems, leaving us more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.

  3. LGBTQ people continue to experience discrimination, unwelcoming attitudes, and lack of understanding from providers and staff in many health care settings, and as a result, many are reluctant to seek medical care except in situations that feel urgent – and perhaps not even then. Access to affirming, affordable healthcare is a barrier for many in our communities.

The purpose of ‘What the LGBTQ Health’? is to share information gathered from One Colorado’s 2018 health report called Closing the Gap: The Turning Point for LGBTQ Health, and hear about the experiences of LGBTQ individuals, their families, and allies in communities across the state. The remaining virtual “tour stops” will be held on Thursday, April 2nd from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM (sign up here) and Sunday, April 19th from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM (sign up here).

LGBTQ Health Awareness Week, recognized March 23rd – March 27th, is a week-long observance to bring awareness to the unique health needs and disparities of the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ people encounter discrimination in employment, relationship recognition, and insurance coverage on a regular basis. Consequently, they are less likely to be able to afford critical health care than their straight and non-transgender peers. For LGBTQ people of color, barriers to care and health disparities are even greater. This is the 18th annual observance of LGBTQ Health Awareness Week.

Here are a few important data points from One Colorado’s Closing the Gap report:

  • Thirty four percent of transgender respondents have been denied coverage for an LGBTQ-specific medical services, like HIV medications, hormones, PrEP, PEP, HPV, vaccine, gender-affirming care.

  • Nearly one in three LGBQ respondents and half of transgender respondents say that their mental health was not good 14 of the previous 30 days, compared to 12 percent of the general population.

  • About half of LGBQ respondents reported feeling depressed, down, and/or having little pleasure or interest in doing things at least several days of the month. About 75 percent of transgender respondents reported these emotions at least several days of the month, with 16 percent reporting feeling down, depressed, or hopeless nearly every day.