This month, the National LGBT Cancer Network released a new LGBT training film, Vanessa Goes To The Doctor. The New York State Health Department funded Vanessa Goes To The Doctor, a scripted eight minute video about a transgender woman of color visiting a new primary care doctor.  The film imitates a 1950’s instructional videos, using contrasting LGBT-affirming and unwelcoming practices that allows healthcare providers to absorb important content in a funny and unthreatening and powerful style.

In just a few minutes, this film manages to convey several recommended best practices for how healthcare providers can create a more inclusive and welcoming environment, which is very important since many transgender people fear that they will not be welcomed in healthcare settings.  This fear causes many transgender people, like the character Vanessa, to delay or avoid healthcare.  Unfortunately, this fear is based on a very real history of discrimination.  Lambda Legal’s landmark study, When Healthcare Isn’t Caring, found that 70 percent of transgender and gender non-conforming survey respondents had experienced serious healthcare discrimination.

All of the best practices highlighted in Vanessa Goes to the Doctor are practices that HRC recommends and assesses in HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), which works with healthcare facilities from around the country to help them provide better and more equitable care to their LGBT patients.  

One best practice that is highly recommended for any healthcare provider is training in LGBT cultural competency and patient-centered care.  Vanessa Goes to the Doctor was developed by the National LGBT Cancer Network for use in their LGBT cultural competency trainings and is now available for public use.  HRC also offers free online training in LGBT patient centered care to the facilities that participate in the HEI. In 2015, HRC provided more than 30,000 hours of training and more than 28 percent of those hours were focused exclusively on meeting the unique needs and challenges transgender people face in accessing healthcare, demonstrating a strong interest by healthcare providers in meeting the needs of this population.  

Training opportunities like those provided through HRC’s HEI and efforts such as Vanessa Goes to the Doctor help make our healthcare system more inclusive and welcoming to transgender and gender non-conforming people -- something that is badly needed.  


Filed under: Health & Aging

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