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Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Advisory Committee

Minutes of the March 21, 2006 Meeting



Committee Members Present: Commissioner Cecilia Chung, Commissioner Mark Dunlop, Jane Aceituno, Whitney Bagby, Dora Balcazar, Blue Buddha, David Cameron, Celina Chico, Billy Curtis, Aidan Dunn, Calvin Gipson, Christopher Gomora, Ted Guggenheim, Danny Kirchoff,  Erica Newport, Roberto  Ordeñana, Anthony Philip, Ren Phoenix, Aleem Raja, Martin Rawlings-Fein, Jason Riggs, Stephen Schwichow, Jason Stein, Morningstar Vancil, Matthew Wood, Diana Ming Yin.


Committee Members Absent: None


Staff Present: Marcus Arana, Larry Brinkin, Hadas Rivera-Weiss, Domenic Viterbo.


Guests Present: Jeanna Eichenbaum, Julie Frank, Oliver Gajda, Joanne Keatley, Yoseñio Lewis, April May.


1.      Call to Order and Roll Call:


Commissioner Chung called the meeting to order at 5:35 p.m. Mr. Brinkin called the roll. Mr. Brinkin announced that Nancy Lawlor has moved toOakland and therefore can no longer serve on the Committee and has resigned.


2.      Public Comment for Items Not on the Agenda:


No public comments were made.


3.      Welcome to New Members and Introductions:


Commissioners Chung and Dunlop welcomed the new Committee members, Jane Aceituno, Blue Buddha, Celina Chico, Billy Curtis, Calvin Gipson, Christopher Gamora, Erica Newport, Roberto Isaac Ordeñana, Anthony Philip, Martin Rawlings-Fein, Jason Riggs, and Diana Ming Yin, to their first meeting tonight, along with reinstated member, Aleem Raja.




4.      Approval of February 21, 2006 Minutes (Action Item):


Ms. Vancil and Mr. Curtis pointed out the misspelling of Deb Pierce’s name under “Guests Present” and in the third paragraph on Page 2. Mr. Schwichow moved to approve the minutes as amended. Ms. Phoenix seconded. The motion passed unanimously.


5.      Transgender Health Care Panel:


Mr. Wood introduced the panel presenters.


Joanne Keatley was asked to present for Dr. Lori Kohler who was unable to attend tonight’s meeting. Ms. Keatley is employed at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF); she shared her personal experiences with having had sexual reassignment surgery and the barriers faced when receiving health care. Even though she went to a good surgeon and is very pleased with the results, it was difficult finding a doctor with transgender expertise after moving to San Francisco six years ago. Upon experiencing an unknown medical condition, she found a doctor who was receptive to treating her medical needs. Even though she works at a world-renowned medical facility, she said that medical personnel at UCSF weren’t able to diagnose her problems. One example is where her doctor’s assistant didn’t examine her genitalia and said that he “didn’t know what he was looking at.” She had to go to the UCSF Women’s Health Center to see a gynecologist who examined her, but again, the physicians there were not able to make a diagnosis. She had to ask the gynecologist to have cultures taken after being examined. She was later billed for the exam even though she did not get information on the results. She saw over a dozen practitioners and none of them could tell her what was wrong with her body. She even had to battle with her insurance company for a referral to a physician with experience with her health needs. She concluded saying that although she is proud to work at UCSF, seeking trans-sensitive health care there has been a real struggle. She asked if there was anything the Committee could do to help promote the access to health care for transgender people.


Jeanna Eichenbaum, of Walden House, manages the transgender recovery project, and teaches at City College of San Francisco on transgender issues, post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), and sex and gender issues throughout the state. She works primarily with people who are either substance abusing, or are dual- or triple-diagnosed individuals with mental health issues and HIV. She said that there are many programs in the City that are doing a good job at promoting trans awareness because she is frequently asked to speak by those agencies to provide education. She said that addiction and HIV are prevalent in the male-to-female (“MTF”) populations and MTF communities of color than in other communities that fall under the transgender umbrella. She said that there is a lot of addiction in parts of the community along with PTSD and other stress disorders because of the chronic condition of living with prejudice, discrimination, harassment, the inability to find work, chronic unemployment, or the terror of actually going to a job interview because of gender presentation. She said that a big challenge for treatment programs now is what to do with people who don’t fall into an easily defined gender category either because they may not have fully transitioned or because they don’t want to be part of one of the two categories. She said that though she feels Walden House is on the cutting edge on trans information, they’re having a difficult time knowing how to best serve the needs of gender queer or gender variant people. She’s struck by how open many clients are with these issues; however, there’s a small minority who are still prejudiced. She said that the gender variant piece and the piece about how to work best with people as they are transitioning is where many programs fall short. She feels that more advocacy and work needs to be done for incarcerated trans women. She ended saying that the trans community is at risk in many different ways and these risks are not intrinsic with being transgender; it has to do with the tremendous amount of discrimination, homophobia, and transphobia experienced daily.


Yoseñio Lewis, a former Committee member, spoke about his personal experiences in obtaining health care. He had cancer three times because he wasn’t diagnosed when he should’ve been. He was told by medical professionals that he was only trying to get free surgeries. In 1995, his own doctor said that he may need a hysterectomy, but soon went on maternity leave. As his health condition worsened, he saw many doctors who referred him to other doctors who couldn’t help him. In December 1996, he was referred to a fertility doctor and was given a water ultrasound which showed he had Stage 1 uterine cancer. The doctor said he needed to have a hysterectomy. A year later, his original doctor was outraged upon hearing what happened to him because she had noted that he needed to have a hysterectomy. Years later a lump was discovered after having been told by the radiologist that it was just a speck on the screen. He made them do it again and the same speck returned. The doctors said that the lump should be removed. He said he felt jerked around by medical professionals who should’ve known better how to treat a body that is reconfigured differently from what they’re used to treating. This is partly why he does some of the things he does on a local, state, and national level to advocate for healthcare that is needed and available.


Mr. Arana of staff said that health insurance companies don’t pay for health care treatment even if it’s not related to transitioning and that medical providers have to be told what is needed by their transgender patients. If the medical providers don’t listen, they imperil the health of transgender patients because they should’ve received the training and expertise to treat them. He shared his own personal experiences of going through a serious life-threatening illness and receiving healthcare through UCSF, then concluded saying that he was extremely lucky to have been eligible for transgender health care benefits because he is a City employee. All his medical costs were covered by this benefit.


Commissioner Chung suggested that the Committee continue this discussion at either the retreat or devoting at least 15 minutes of the next meeting to see if there are any further steps that can be taken.  


6.      Information re: Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety (Nick Carr / SFMTA):


Mr. Brinkin introduced Oliver Gajda, the Assistant Bicycle Program Manager with the S.F. Municipal Transportation Agency (“MTA”). Mr. Gajda distributed handouts and spoke about two of their programs, the Bicycle Safety Program and the Pedestrian Safety Program, and described what each provides. He described the four “E”s that they cover: Engineering: when streets are changed to add bike lanes or signal lights; Education: providing the community educational, advanced, and outdoor media; Enforcement: what the SFPD addresses as far as violations against and to bicyclists and pedestrians; Encouragement: to promote events such as Bike to Work Day. He said that bicycle and pedestrian collisions in S.F. have been decreasing due to providing education and working with law enforcement agencies and that they work with the S.F. Bicycle Coalition by providing education classes on riding more effectively in traffic.


7.      Commissioners’ Report:


Commissioner Chung reported that the Commission will meet on Thursday to decide on a date to discuss the Commission’s direction for the coming year. She said some of the things the Commission has committed itself to do is to have meetings in different neighborhoods in the City to connect with members of the community. She added that the Commission would like the Committee’s input to help identify the communities to which they can do outreach.


8.      Staff Report:


Mr. Brinkin, who is a member of the Board of Directors of the California Association of Human Relations Organizations (CAHRO), reported that he and Commissioner Chung attended a meeting in Oakland to assist a group of people in helping to reform an HRC there that was disbanded. They offered their experience and expertise working with the City’s HRC and those around the state. He said the biggest problem faced by all HRCs around the state is getting cities and counties to fund them.


Mr. Brinkin reported that April 9 is the day of the Committee retreat. Committee members who’ve expressed interest in participating on the Retreat Planning Committee: Ms. Aceituno, Mr. Gomora, Ms. Phoenix, Mr. Schwichow, and Mr. Wood. An email will be sent to canvass their availability to have a meeting. Mr. Brinkin added that a future meeting will be devoted to training in racism and internal communication or how we see the Committee as a non-racist Committee. The Racism and Internal Communication Task Force will decide when would be a good month to have this.


In response to a question, Mr. Brinkin reported that staff is sending a letter to Catholic Charities inquiring about their policy on placing children in same-sex households. He added that the HRC appreciates the great work that Catholic Charities provides to agencies that serve the AIDS/HIV and other communities. The staff’s role is to investigate and issue a finding if discrimination is occurring. It’s up to the funding departments to decide whether or not to cut funding. Commissioner Chung suggested that a work group or task force be formed to examine this issue and provide a detailed report to the Committee. Mr. Brinkin said that since Catholic Charities is a City contractor, they can appeal any Directors Findings to the Commissioners who’ll then hold a hearing and decide whether to uphold the Directors Findings.


9.   Old/New Business:


No Old/New Business was discussed.


10.  Announcements:


Commissioner Chung announced a mentoring program in which each new member will pair up (or will be paired up) with an older member of a year or more to share information about each other and introduce each other at the retreat. Commissioner Chung announced that the Transgender Job Fair will take place tomorrow, March 22, at the LGBT Center from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. She added that a free screening of the documentary, “Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria,” will take place on Thursday, March 23, at the Metropolitan Community Church.


Mr. Gomora announced that the Bay Area American Indian Two Spirits is sponsoring an evening of Native American poets called “Speaking in Tongues” that will be held on Friday, March 31, at 7:30 p.m., at the LGBT Center. For more information, go to


Mr. Ordeñana announced that the LGBT Center’s Latino Forum will be hosting “Word Warriors: Queer Latina Writers Speak About Their Careers, Achievements, and Lives”,  focusing on queer Latina women writers and journalists on Wednesday, April 12, at the LGBT Center from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.


11.   Adjournment:


The meeting was adjourned at 7:35 p.m.