More than 160 people attended the first-ever TRANSforming New Hampshire Heathcare Summit on Saturday November 19 to engage in private and public conversations about how to access services and navigate the complex world of healthcare. The day-long event was held at University of New Hampshire Law School in Concord. It was sponsored by the ACLU of New Hampshire and presented by Freedom New Hampshire, which partnered with other state organizations and Freedom For All Americans national campaign,

Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, Public Education Director for Freedom for All Americans, said the transgender community faces barriers to healthcare access throughout the U.S. that forces them to travel long distances for doctors’ appointments or to relocate entirely.  “I know of people who have sought medical care for a health condition, like a broken ankle, and the doctor fixates on the fact that they’re transgender. It shouldn’t matter that they’re transgender. We all have basic human needs” said Heng-Lehtinen.  National surveys show that people in the transgender community are more often than not having to educate their doctors about their specific healthcare needs.

“But maybe one day that’ll be more commonplace” said Heng-Lehtinen, “There are doctors who are eager to learn and who want to do better by those in the transgender community.” This summit was proof of that, he said.

JeanMarie Gossard, Campaign Manager for Freedom New Hampshire, said one of the goals of the summit is connecting “trans-friendly” healthcare providers with patients. “There are so many people in the transgender community who feel unsafe in their healthcare environment and that’s the last place where someone should feel that way,” she said.

Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, reminded the audience of the progress that’s been made these last eight years and that the trans community “knows how to stop, decelerate and mitigate things…but the most important work is still getting people to know us.”