Statement from the Office of Council Vice President Kate Stewart and CCI Health Services on Montgomery County’s OLO Report on Transgender Healthcare

on January 26, 2024

ROCKVILLE, Md., Jan. 26, 2024 – On Saturday, February 10, Council Vice President Kate Stewart, in partnership with CCI Health Services, will host a roundtable discussion about the state of transgender healthcare in Montgomery County. Key figures, including Reverend Ali K.C. Bell and Lee Blinder, Executive Director at Trans Maryland, will join them. Learn more about the roundtable.

On Tuesday, January 16, the Montgomery County Office of Legislative Oversight released the Transgender Healthcare in Montgomery County report confirming that our transgender neighbors face significant disparities in accessing health care and that currently, Montgomery County is a “desert” when it comes to meeting the health needs of trans residents. The OLO report comes a few short months after the release of the Montgomery County LGBTQ+ Community Survey conducted in 2022 by the Montgomery County Office of Community Partnerships, which highlighted numerous challenges LGBTQ+ community members face every day.

Particularly sobering, as shown in the community survey, is the number of people needing gender-affirming care who are unable to find it. Forty-one percent of those surveyed indicated difficulty finding the gender-affirming medical care and support they need in Montgomery County. The number is the same when it comes to mental health support. Over 25 percent of those surveyed also report having to teach health care providers about sexual orientation and gender identity to receive proper care.

“Addressing the health disparities in our communities requires building a culture of inclusivity, equity, and dignity,” said Will Giordano-Perez, MD, MBA, Chief Medical Officer at CCI Health Services. “The state of Maryland has declared itself a sanctuary state for the transgender community. There is more that can be done. We can do better. We must do better.”

Barriers to care are highlighted in the OLO report, including the increased likelihood of transgender people experiencing socioeconomic barriers to healthcare. The OLO report shares that “both researchers and representatives from the transgender community report that the biggest barrier both to safe gender-affirming and to appropriate general medical care for transgender patients is the lack of access to providers with training related to transgender healthcare.”

Both research projects indicate that our LGBTQIA+ community does not feel supported, especially our trans community. Trans, gender-expansive, and questioning individuals postpone seeking care due to cost, fear of mistreatment, and inability to locate a knowledgeable provider. The barriers they experience are often compounded by existing disparities in the BIPOC community.

“It’s time for Montgomery County and others in our region to be a standout leader in creating health equity for LGBTQIA+ individuals,” said Council Vice President Stewart. “I am proud to stand with CCI Health Services, a community health center based right here in Montgomery County, and members of our community to lead this change. We must work together, public and private organizations, to not only fill the gap but be exemplary because our neighbors’ health depends on it. I am looking forward to participating in this roundtable to move us forward.”