A policy written last year by three Dornsife students, Ms. Kara Fisher, Ms. Samantha Weckesser, and Ms. Rosie Mae Henson, has been officially adopted by the American Public Health Association. The policy advocates for transgender rights as fundamental to public health and is the first APHA policy linking transgender rights and health.
Ms. Fisher and Ms. Henson were frustrated by issues of discrimination and stigma facing the transgender community, how those issues are legalized or otherwise legitimized through policies and systems, and what the implications of these policies are for physical and mental health among the transgender community.
“We noticed that transgender discrimination and health were not addressed by APHA, and decided to write the policy to fill that gap,” said Ms. Henson. The Drexel team connected with someone at another institution, Ms. Ali Talan, who was also interested in writing a policy on transgender health and decided to join forces.
Research shows that health disparities among minority groups can be explained to a large extent by stressors induced by a hostile and transphobic culture, which often results in a lifetime of harassment, maltreatment, discrimination, and victimization.
“We submitted our first draft a month before North Carolina’s infamous House Bill 2 was passed, which only reinforced the importance of the policy,” Ms. Henson said.
The policy development process for APHA includes peer-review, multiple revisions, and an opportunity for testimony and comment. Through this process, it took just over a year to complete the final version of the policy.
In November, APHA voted with 91 percent support of the governing council to adopt the policy, which becomes the official stance of the organization.
The new policy calls for evidenced-based strategies to address transgender health and discrimination, advocating for inclusive:
The authors hope to see public and private organizations adopt and apply inclusive policies and practices outlined in the APHA policy because of the importance of protecting the rights of all individuals.