CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – West Virginia has the highest percentage of transgender youth in the nation based on population. All of them will need competent and compassionate health care with trained providers. Fairness West Virginia is working to make that happen with the first phase of a new statewide transgender health initiative.
“We don’t want to tell someone that, say lives in Paw Paw, West Virginia, that you got to drive all the way to Charleston, we want you to be able to find a doctor nearby,” says Natasha Stone, the transgender visibility organizer for Fairness WV. This is the idea behind the first phase of Fairness West Virginia’s comprehensive health guide for transgender people in the mountain state.
“We realized transgender West Virginians were having trouble accessing the care that they needed from doctors – we are talking basic care going to the doctors for a check-up,” adds Stone.
Over the last year, Stone has trained more than 400 professionals across West Virginia who work in a health care setting on providing that care. Last week the civil rights advocacy organization launched an interactive health guide for transgender West Virginians.
While the health guide includes a provider and clinic list, it also has an interactive map so you can search for medical care that is closest to your area.
“Let’s say you want to go to a psychologist to get a letter for hormones to get your gender dysphoria assessment and you live in Clendenin you can just type in ‘Clendenin’ here and boom there’s a doctor right there that supplies psychological care,” says Stone.
While the focus of this guide and the training is on providing high-quality care to transgender people, the training will also benefit West Virginia’s 72-thousand residents who identify themselves within the LGBTQ community.
“It’s really important to be able to go see a doctor and be treated with dignity and respect and that’s really kind of what a lot of the training is learning best practices to treating all of your patients with dignity and respect,” says Stone.
Fairness hopes to eventually have trained health care professionals in every part of the state.