Affirming the lives of trans women of color

In order to truly address the root causes and impacts of gender-based violence, we must commit to and practice centering the voices and experiences of those most impacted: trans women of color and all transgender people.

Healthcare in 2017: what you need to know

Many survivors of domestic and sexual violence are recipients of health care made possible by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, or sometimes known as “Obamacare”), which supports programs such as our Oregon Health Plan and Federally Qualified Health Centers, as well as other public funding programs that make possible health care for people in need.

However, even as the future is unclear, there are actions you can take right now to take charge of your health and help advocate for the survivors of domestic and sexual violence with whom you work.

Since November, people across the United States are signing up for health care through the exchanges at record rates.  No matter your income status or situation, open enrollment for health insurance runs through January 31, 2017. The coverage you sign up for today is a contract for your health care in 2017.

Whatever may happen, new health insurance rules will not effect this year.  Thus, it is still a good idea to enroll eligible survivors in the Oregon Health Plan or on the exchanges.  Key points for advocates and survivors remain in 2017:

  • Domestic violence is a health issue.  Thus, domestic violence screening and counseling are core preventive health services.

  • Although the deadline for many people is January 31, survivors of domestic violence are exempt from the restricted enrollment periods, and can sign up for the Oregon Health Plan at any time.  (More below.)

  • Survivors do not need to provide documentation of abuse or violence to qualify.  

  • Domestic violence is no longer a pre-existing condition for insurers.  

  • Survivors who are married to their abusive partner have the ability to sign up for their own insurance and claim the appropriate tax subsidy as long as they have separated (Learn more here).

  • In Oregon, thanks to OCADSV and partner advocacy in 2015, survivors who are receiving care under their abusive partner’s healthcare insurance policy (private health insurance such as Moda, PacificSource, Providence, etc.) may still access confidential services by submitting the Oregon Request for Confidential Communication form here: (Learn more here.)

  • With tax season upon us, and with 1 in 20 Oregonians still uninsured, we know that many people will need to pay a penalty for a lack of healthcare insurance in 2016.  Survivors of domestic violence qualify for a “hardship exemption” from this penalty.  (Learn more here.)

We recommend advocates take the time to work with a community partner to the Oregon Health Plan to assist in navigating enrollment issues for survivors of domestic violence.  Community partners include trained navigators who are staff members of organizations such as IRCO, Urban League, Outside In, NARA, and many other organizations across the state of Oregon.  You can find them online (by zip code, make sure to search for “Community Partner (P)”) here: . Contact Sarah Keefe at OCADSV if you have further questions about this process.

Advancing Gender-Inclusive Services

Do you sometimes feel confused or overwhelmed by trying to keep up with evolving language and experiences regarding gender and sexuality? This article aims to provide some easy to understand information that will help ground our conversations about (and work to improve) gender-inclusive services.

Note: there is a helpful terms list here; use it when you run into a word you don’t understand!

In this article I will discuss three concepts -- gender essentialism, the gender binary, heteronormativity -- and the ways they limit our ability to provide gender-inclusive services. I will briefly reference relevant law and policy that affirm we must provide services to survivors of all genders. And I will present some practical suggestions for improving accessibility for people of all genders, particularly those who are not cisgender women. Keep an eye out for a webinar expanding on some of this material.

The foundation of our advocacy work is promoting self-determination and safety for survivors. We generally understand the need for our services stems from the use of patriarchal and misogynistic violence, and other forms of oppression (ableism, racism, homophobia, etc) exacerbate the harm caused. We are committed to upholding the dignity of each and every survivor, regardless of gender, race, language, income, disability, etc; these are the anti-oppressive values from which we strive to do our work.

However, sometimes our advocacy work is impeded by the lingering, often unstated, even unconscious, belief in what is called gender essentialism: the view that women and men are fundamentally and permanently different on a biological level. One of the places this shows up is the mistaken belief that transgender women are actually men, and should not be allowed in spaces historically or currently intended for women. This is incredibly harmful to inclusion, healing and uplifting for trans women, many of whom experience incredibly high rates of violence. As United States Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta reminded us last summer in a powerful address, “transgender women are women; they live, work and study as women.”