Local Orgs Help Identify Medical & Legal Support for Trans Residents
Learn your rights with Gender Affirmation
By Alex Puente,
4:30PM, Mon. Feb. 18, 2019
Kind Clinic’s work providing health care to Austin’s LGBTQ community is not restricted to the clinical setting. Along with Out Youth and Austin Medical-Legal Partnership, Kind is now hosting Gender Affirmation: Law and Advocacy.
The monthly education series seeks to provide general information on laws involving gender identity. Specifically, it focuses on resources for trans and nonbinary people to ensure that folks of all gender identities know what their legal rights are, have tools to enforce them, and know where to look for legal services and legal helps – especially in regards to legal and medical issues that could impact their health.
As Wesley Hartman, a fellow of the Austin Medical-Legal Partnership, explains “Gender orientation and gender identity can be a complicated part of the law.” Gender Affirmation, says Hartman, “is my way to reach out to the broader community and touch more people at once.” Hartman told Qmmunity he wanted to start the series as part of his fellowship project in an effort to do more than work with individual patients in the clinic. Through the Austin Medical-Legal partnership, clients are provided a wide range of legal services including legal council, help drafting documents, and also get help preparing court documents.
This month’s presentation on Thursday, Feb. 21, during lunchtime, addresses medical decision-making. According to Hartman, people who are unable to make their own medical decisions will, by default, have those decisions made made a family member. But because the LGBTQ community faces a higher risk of family rejection and abuse, it can be dangerous to leave relatives in charge of medical decisions. Hartman’s goal is to make individuals aware of the law and provide the proper steps toward planning in case of an emergency.
“It’s a law not many people are aware of, or aware of what they need to plan,” says Hartman. “It forces them back into those negative relationships and gives someone power over them who shouldn’t have that authority.”
The presentations offered by the series not only serve as a reference to legal and medical resources, but exist to help navigate the law in an accessible way. Kind Clinic provides self help and education references for those who may not be able to access a lawyer. People will also be notified of situations in which they need an attorney, especially regarding gender affirmation and medical affairs.
“The series is a great service to our patients and community so that people know they have support through programs like the Medical Legal Partnership,” sums up Christopher Hamilton, CEO of Texas Health Action’s Kind Clinic. But it also helps folks become “better self-advocates, knowing your rights, and being able to stand up for them.”
This month’s Gender Affirmation is Thursday, Feb. 21, 11:45am-1pm at People's Community Clinic (1101 Camino La Costa). For information visit www.austinpcc.org.