Metro Weekly

Whitman-Walker to participate in national research project on transgender health care

Project seeks to examine health care-related problems facing the transgender and nonbinary communities

Photo: Hush Naidoo, via Unsplash.

On Monday, Whitman-Walker Health announced it would be participating in a national research project to better understand and address the health needs of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

Known as the “Four Corners: TGNC Health Research Advisory Network,” the project, funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, will establish a community-led advisory network that will connect community members, researchers, and clinicians from across the United States so they can share information and establish best practices for patient-centered research projects focusing on transgender-specific health concerns.

In addition to Whitman-Walker, participating organizations include Howard Brown Health, a Chicago-based organization specializing in HIV and LGBTQ-related health care which is leading the initiative; the Los Angeles LGBT Center; and the Houston-based Legacy Community Health. Currently, the four organizations serve more than 10,000 transgender or gender-nonconforming patients.

“Four Corners will establish a new standard in transgender research by including community voices from the start,” Andie Baker, the vice president at Howard Brown Health’s Center for Education, Research, and Advocacy, said in a statement. “The ground-breaking partnership will ensure new research that addresses what transgender and gender-nonconforming people need to make healthcare more relevant to their lived experience. This is urgently needed, as the transgender and gender-nonconforming community experiences disproportionate health disparities.”

“With the goal of improving health and wellness outcomes for all who identify on the gender spectrum, this research collaboration will establish foundational standards for methods, recruitment, and protocols when conducting transgender and non-binary-focused health studies,” Dr. Deborah Goldstein, the director of clinical research and evaluation at Whitman-Walker Health, said in a statement. “We are excited by the opportunity for our patients to develop research priorities as we work to better understand the health needs of transgender and non-binary communities.”

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, nearly 1 in 4 transgender or gender-nonconforming respondents claimed they did not seek health care due to their fears of being mistreated. Another one in three transgender respondents did not seek out a health care provider because they could not afford it. Transgender people are also nine times more likely to attempt suicide in their lifetime than cisgender individuals — a statistic that could merit further study when it comes to examining the root causes of suicidal ideation, which may include depression or mental health issues.

Patients of the participating health centers who are transgender, gender-nonconforming, or nonbinary and are over the age of 18 who wish to participate as a member of the Four Corners advisory network are invited to apply. Those who sign up must make a two-year-commitment to the project, complete a 3-to-4-hour training in research ethics — for which they’ll receive a certificate and a $100 stipend — and attend five Four Corners meetings. The application deadline is Mar. 8, 2019. 

“I’m so excited to hear that these health centers are conducting research focused on the needs of the transgender and gender non-conforming community,” said SaVanna Wanzer, a founder of Capital Trans Pride and the organization’s “May Is? ‘All About Trans'” initiative. “I hope this data will be shared with institutions like the CDC and NIH to encourage more funding for trans-related health care. This research will help us educate providers on the need for more medical care, mental health support, addiction services, and sexual health services for our community.”

To apply to become a member of Four Corners’ advisory network, download and email the completed application at www.howardbrown.org/era/FourCorners.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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