Solidarity Org. Implements Ground-Breaking Gender Identity Related Health Care Policy

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New York - On March 1, 2007 the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) implemented a Gender-Identity Related Health Care Coverage Policy to assist its transgendered and gender non-conforming employees with medical fees that are not covered by the organization’s current insurance policy.

 For 27 years CISPES, in solidarity with the popular movement in El Salvador, has challenged U.S. government policies which lead to violence and poverty throughout Latin America; current campaigns involve organizing against the Central American Free Trade Agreement and the privatization of water in El Salvador.   CISPES is a grassroots organization committed to working for a world without oppression, recognizing that the roots of oppression run deep in our society and in ourselves, and that all freedom struggles -- from El Salvador’s battle for self-determination to domestic challenges to racism, sexism and heterosexism -- are linked. 

As CISPES works to support progressive social movement organizations in the Global South and to change U.S. foreign policy, the organization is also dedicated to applying its ideals internally by fighting oppression in all of its manifestations. “To effectively advocate for peace and social justice in the Americas, we must also challenge the worst abuses of the exclusionary system in the U.S.,” said Executive Director Burke Stansbury.  “Through this initiative we express our solidarity with one of the most excluded sectors of every country in this hemisphere.”

Not only is this an important issue within the United States, but is important in El Salvador as well. Lucia Ramirez, CISPES coordinator in San Salvador, says, “El Salvador, like the U.S. and much of the rest of the world, continues to be a institutionally sexist, homophobic and transphobic society and for that, I hope this advancement within CISPES motivates and educates about the need to respect and protect the rights of identity every person should have.”

Most health insurance plans exclude the distinct needs of transgendered people forcing them to pay for their own medications and surgeries out of pocket.  Transphobic doctors, hospitals and clinics also deny most transgendered people access to respectful care, hormones and other forms of basic medical necessity.  Taking leadership from organizations that work on transgender rights in a daily way, CISPES’s policy is modeled after the Sylvia Rivera Law Project’s Trans Healthcare Policy.

The CISPES Gender-Identity Related Health Care Coverage Policy is exceptional, as few progressive organizations offer such aid to their trans and gender non-conforming employees. We hope that this will be part of a new initiative for organizations and employers across many sectors to figure out creative ways both to raise awareness about injustices within the healthcare system and to support trans and gender non-conforming people’s access to affordable, quality medical care, which everyone deserves,” said Sha Grogan-Brown, CISPES’s Development Director.

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