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LGBTQ community faces healthcare challenges in the Valley

3 months 2 weeks 4 days ago Friday, June 04 2021 Jun 4, 2021 June 04, 2021 6:40 AM June 04, 2021 in News - Local

Madeleine Croll, a transgender woman, was just over 30 years old when she started transitioning.

Shuffling from one doctor’s office to another, Croll couldn’t find anyone who would treat her. And then after finding someone, she couldn't find an insurance plan.

"I have worked for employers who have provided health insurance that specifically excluded care for me as a trans person,” Croll said.

Croll’s story resonates with Gabriel Sanchez, who is looking forward to having a child. Sanchez says it has been hard to find care as a member of a gay couple.

“Whether it’s accessing pre-natal care, or accessing at the time of birth, finding medical professionals that are going to affirm us exactly how we are,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez works on LGBTQ advocacy in the Valley, and connects people with medical professionals who will care for them. But Sanchez says here in the Valley, the issue of finding a provider is tough.

“We’re in a geographically rural area, and we’re also in an area with a lot of poverty,” Sanchez said. “So, there tends to be a struggle with accessing resources in general…I think it’s hard to explain to someone who has not had to go through that, the anxiety that can cause, that fear of being rejected.“

Dr. Lisa Campo-Engelstein with the University of Texas at Galveston says doctors are completely protected in being able to refuse care.

“If someone says, ‘Oh, that goes against my religious or philosophical beliefs, we want to allow that flexibility for them to do that," Campo-Engelstein said. "However, the concern here is that this may then disproportionately affect different groups."

She says her goal isn’t to make doctors treat people they don’t want to, but to spread awareness on the effects this may have on the LGTBQ community.

Sanchez says reaching out to the South Texas Equality Project, or STEP, on Facebook is the best way to get connected with a list of providers who will treat you.

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