The D.C. Council Committee on Health and Human Services on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill requiring medical professionals to receive ongoing cultural competency training in LGBT-related health care issues in order to ensure they can provide up-to-date, competent medical advice to members of the LGBT community.
Known as the LGBTQ Cultural Competency Continuing Education Amendment Act of 2015, the measure would require any ongoing education for a license, registration or certification include two credits on LGBT-specific health issues. Such issues include recognizing and being cognizant of health risks for specific communities that may seek out care, best practices for keeping an LGBT patients’ medical information private, best practices for training support staff to be able to deal competently with LGBT or gender-nonconforming people. Supporters of the bill previously testified in favor of it at an Oct. 28 committee hearing.
“During the hearing on this bill, we heard truly heartbreaking stories from LGBTQ residents about mistreatment they experienced at the hands of medical providers,” said Councilmember David Grosso (I-At-Large), who cosponsored the bill will Councilmember Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7). “In particular, our transgender friends and neighbors face disrespect and misunderstanding in medical settings, and this bill will continue our work to correct this serious problem.”
According to a recent report released by the DC Trans Coalition and transgender activists last month, as many as one in five transgender people in D.C. have been denied medical care due to their gender. Both locally and nationally, transgender people have a higher incidence of STDs and HIV, as well as cancer, mental illness and suicidal ideation. By providing cultural competency training to all medical providers, transgender advocates are hopeful that the health disparities transgender people in D.C. experience relative to the rest of the city’s population can begin to be closed or lessened.
The bill now moves to the full chamber for consideration. All but two of Grosso and Alexander’s colleagues on the Council have signed on to the measure, meaning passage is almost guaranteed when it is next brought up before the Committee of the Whole. From there, it will head to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s desk for her signature.
“Quality medical care is often a life or death issue, and it is always a human right,” said Grosso. “I am grateful to the Committee on Health and Human Services Chairperson Alexander for moving this legislation forward, for the health and well-being of our residents.”