February 22, 2023

Enhancing Gender-Affirming Care in Puerto Rico

As a growing number of states and territories in the United States enact laws to prevent providers from administering gender-affirming treatment, it’s more important than ever to address the needs of transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people. Recently, the Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC), through its cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, led a series of online and in-person training sessions in the Northeast region of the United States, including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to enhance primary care for those in marginalized communities.

“Hosting this training was a collaborative effort with people who identify as transgender and gender non-binary. It allowed them to expose their voices to community members who typically wouldn’t want to hear about their perspectives,” said Oscar Marquez, M.Ed. [pictured], Senior Program Manager and Capacity Building Assistance (CBA) Project Director at PCDC.

In Puerto Rico where the in-person sessions were held in Spanish, PCDC brought experts with vast knowledge of LGTBQ issues.

“This PCDC training was not just a lecture. It was an interactive opportunity for participants to have engaging and thought-provoking conversations. The training also incorporated critical thinking practices which people need to revolutionize and make structural changes,” said Queen Victoria Ortega [pictured], International President of FLUX and Chief Visionary Officer at CONOTEC.

“We wanted the attendees to learn more about our day-to-day and understand all the terms that we purposefully use. Additionally, we wanted them to understand the struggles we encounter and how difficult it is to access the services that we need to live a healthy life,” said Khalyve Yllek Santiago Román [pictured], a local businessman in Puerto Rico.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, 19% of transgender people surveyed have been refused medical care because of their gender identity.

“Providers need to ensure that there’s the incorporation of freedom and inclusivity. We need to take it one step further and expand social services, so there’s an equal outreach,” noted Mildred González Altreche [pictured], Health at the Puerto Rico Department of Health.

“This was a great turnout,” said Oscar Marquez, M.Ed. “I think we started a bigger conversation where we can expand and improve the services that should be available to transgender and gender non-binary people. We hope to come back to Puerto Rico and continue collaborating with the community to improve these services.”

PCDC would like to thank the participants and identity consultants who participated in these interactive learning sessions. This event was part of a growing national focus and body of PCDC’s work. If you would like to participate in similar activities or support in enhancing culturally and gender affirming services, please contact us at cqp@pcdc.org.

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