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LGBT Community Says Health Report Excludes The "T"

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By Rebecca Sheir

A recent report by the Mayors Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs suggests D.C.'s LGBT population is more likely to smoke, engage in binge-drinking and experience negative mental health.

But some say the report isn't accurate, since it excludes an important segment of the community.

D.C.'s first study addressing the health of lesbians, gays and bisexuals is titled, aptly enough, the LGB Health 2010 Report.

"But," says Brian Watson of Transgender Health Empowerment, "it's sad to say that the 'T' is silent."

'T' as in transgender, since the survey that led to the report lacked questions about gender identity.

Rhodes Perry, of the D.C. Trans Coalition, says including these questions could have uncovered the disproportionate drug and alcohol abuse, and thoughts of suicide, experienced by transgendered people.

"We are troubled that the mayor did not inform his basic understanding of the very significant health disparities so many trans-communities experience, due to stigma, discrimination and ignorance," says Perry.

Christopher Dyer, director of the Office of GLBT Affairs, says he understands these concerns.

"I certainly see that by excluding the transgenders from this health report, people might perceive that I failed the transgender community at this point," says Dyer. "But I'll continue to provide the outreach and the work that I can."

Including, he says, finding ways to improve data collection, so the T is never silent again.

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