GaSCA Increasing Awareness of Health Disparities Facing Transgender Population

GaSCA Increasing Awareness of Health Disparities Facing Transgender Population

In an effort to increase awareness and inclusion at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC EP), the Gay Straight Campus Alliance (GaSCA) presented its first meeting of the academic year, focusing on transgender health care issues.“There is a genuine interest in this sensitive topic of transgender health as evidenced by the successful turnout at the Gay Straight Campus Alliance (GaSCA) meeting,” said Jessica A. Calderon-Mora, MPH, MCHES, senior director of TTUHSC EP Diversity Affairs. “This shows positive movement towards a more inclusive environment on campus regarding the LGBT population.”

Oralia Loza, Ph.D., from the UTEP College of Health Sciences Department of Public Health Sciences recently presented findings from her study “Transgender Women’s Identity, Sexuality, and Transition (TWIST)”. These findings included the risk factors and health outcomes among transgender persons.


Prior to sharing the details, Dr. Loza made sure to define the term transgender.

Transgender persons are:

Transgender Women or Transwomen (TW)

–       Male to Female (MTF) transgender

–       Born biologically male (sex) and identify as women (gender)


Transgender Men or Transmen (TM)

–       Female to Male (FTM) transgender

–       Born biologically female (sex) and identify as men (gender)



–       An umbrella term to describe gender variant people who have gender identities, expressions, or behaviors not traditionally associated with their birth sex

–       Preferred over transvestite or transsexual (1) Older terms which do not accurately describe all transgendered people clinical or stigmatizing connotation (2) Can mean anyone who transcends the conventional definitions of ‘man’ or ‘woman’)

–       Can include Butch Lesbians, Radical Faeries, Drag Queens, Drag Kings and many other kinds of gender variant people who use a variety of terms to self-identify (Gender Education & Advocacy, Inc., 2001)


Defining Sex, Gender and Sexuality

Sex (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, New York, 2010)

–       Based on biology



–       Based on self identification (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, New York, 2010)

–       A cultural, biological and psychosocial construct (Mayer, 2008)


Sexuality or Sexual Orientation (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, New York, 2010)

–       Based on behavior


Diamond Briseño provided the perspective of a transgender patient. Briseño shared a story of being in the hospital after an accident, and how two nurses entered her room and told her they needed to give her a pregnancy test. She assured them that they didn’t need to worry about that. The nurses commented that they just weren’t sure. Briseño told the audience that simply asking a person what she or he would prefer to be called by might help provide some insight and break the ice.


Below are details shared by Dr. Loza regarding health disparities:

Health Disparities (Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, 2001)

Health disparities due to:

–       Unaddressed health needs

–       Unaddressed behavioral risk factors

–       Inequitable access to services

–       Lack of knowledge and compassionate practitioners

And may be a result of:

–       Social determinants of health

–       Health vulnerabilities

LGBT Health

–       Health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination and denial of their civil and human rights

–       Discrimination is associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide

–       Experiences of violence and victimization are frequent

–       Personal, family and social acceptance of sexual orientation and gender identity affects the mental health and personal safety

–       Transgender individuals have a high prevalence of HIV/STDs, victimization, mental health issues, and suicide and are less likely to have health insurance than heterosexual or LGB individuals