A little over a month ago, in August of 2022, a statewide multidisciplinary group of mental health professionals with experience in gender assertive care sent a press release addressing their challenges to the Husky Department of Social Services recently updated policies regarding care. health that emphasizes gender. .
We were surprised and dismayed, then, to see some of the content on September 8 reported by the British newspaper The Guardian Connecticut Health Investigation Team or C-HIT.org in the Mirror article, “Access and insurance remain obstacles to gender confirmation surgery on CT.”
While the article explores some of the obstacles to gender assertion sponsorship in Connecticut, it harms readers by omitting the very concerns that this group of providers raised in an August 17 press release detailing additional barriers that DSS has enacted for Husky clients to see gender assertion sponsorship. Social, which is requirements for letters from mental health providers in support of seeking care.
Our concerns begin with these professionals quoted in the article. The quotes are all from white experts in transgender care. The reporter did not consult well-known gender confirmation providers in this state.
There is concern in our pool of physicians about training to be considered experts, as few providers have participated in Fenway’s Trans Echo (National Center for LGBTQIA Health Education +) or solicit external training in transgender care. The professionals cited had the opportunity to encourage the reporter to seek feedback from health care providers via gender assertion about these policies, and they did not. As a group of LGBTQIA+ gender-confirming health care providers, who recently published a critique of DSS/Husky policies to all of Connecticut’s media, none of us have been contacted.
Furthermore, the article supports the DSS’s actions while not mentioning the recent increase in gatekeeping through a policy change, which creates barriers for those seeking Medicaid gender affirmation care. Additionally, there is no mention of the insurmountable barrier for Medicaid clients who do not have thousands of dollars to pay out of their pocket for care, nor are they allowed to pay out of their pocket for care that Connecticut providers do not provide or do not accept Husky Payment.
Since our group has gathered over the past few days to review and discuss this article, we have also dealt with the article’s neglect of the issue of bodily autonomy. According to Dr. A.J. Eckert, medical director of the Gendered Medicine and Life Assurance Program at Anchor Health, “The story reinforces … the narrative of the mental health care model as the standard of care for transgender people—a high-risk model of care that is harmful and outdated by many years.” Indeed, in your article, a psychologist, Laura Saunders, mentioned mental health messages but dismissed the nature of these messages because they “provide guidance in an area that can sometimes be very vague”.
Physical independence is not an obscure topic. The desire for physical independence is not a mental health disease. Individuals should not be required to go into therapy, let alone contact another psychiatric care provider to verify their identity. Proof of identity is an internal process. The messaging is invasive, expensive, time-consuming, and completely unnecessary. The only “consent” required must be based on the person’s informed consent and basic medical ability to undergo the required procedure, which is exactly the same process as examining the patient for any other type of surgery.
The article states that “Medicare, Husky, and many insurance companies follow the widely accepted guidelines of World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), “However, Connecticut’s DSS has implemented rules that are not supported or supported by the best recommendations or guidelines.
There is a growing evidence base that gender confirmation surgery alleviates mental health concerns. It is the addition of barriers to surgery that exacerbates mental health conditions. To tell the full story about access to health care for transgender and non-binary people, the mirror needs to expose the issues we detailed.
Allyson D. Platt, LPC/LMHC on behalf of: Alexandra Solomon, LCSW; Molly Conley, PsyD; Lauren Millard, LCSW; Katie Brutus, DSW, LCSW; Laura S. Dodge, LCSW; Rebecca Toner, LCPC; and Sarah A. Gilbert, LCSW.