Thursday, May 7, 2009

Budget cuts threaten Mental Health Care for SF Trans People

San Francisco's Center for Special Problems has one of the oldest mental health care programs in the country that's focused on people with transgender identities. In addition, many transfolk suffer a variety of other mental health issues like PTSD, depressive /bi-polar disorder, and substance abuse.

CSP's Transgender Program was founded 1n 1966 in the wake of the riots at Compton's Cafeteria. In an effort to prevent more violence, CSP took on not only the mental health issues transfolk, it sought to solve social issues. A part of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, CSP issued photo ID cards in the name and gender preference of the holder. Now a TG person could write a check at the grocery store without having to "out" themselves.

Today the program is under threat. The Mayor and Board of Supervisors have mandated drastic program cuts at the Dept. of Public Health to meet the revenue shortfalls caused by the current recession. SF DPH has ordered the Community Behavioral Health Service, which oversees all mental health care programs in the City, to cut 50% of spending by 30 June 2009. The fat in the budget is long gone now. The Mayor and Supes are cutting down to the bone of services.

CSP's Transgender Program can be saved for very little added expense. It could be merged into CSP's HIV program dividing clinician's time between TG and HIV clients while maintaining a director of TG service who sees TG people only and gives direction to the program.

Send the provided letter by post or email to the of officials on this list

Text of Letter

[Barbara Garcia – Department of Public Health
Deputy Director, Community Health Services
1380 Howard Street, Room 544
San Francisco, CA 94103]

May 7, 2009

Dear [Ms. Garcia,]

I am writing to oppose the Department of Public Health closing the
Gender Program through the Center for Special Problems after 43
years. This is a significant loss to the transsexual, transgender and
gender non conforming community.

The Gender Program specifically works with people who are the most
disenfranchised and who have been discriminated against in culturally
incompetent settings and want a gender specialist. The Gender
Program’s clients are severely discriminated against and multiply
stigmatized related to gender presentation, gender history, mental
health histories, poverty, substance abuse, HIV and homelessness.
Most of CSP’s gender clients are trauma and violence survivors related
to gender identity.

Relocating and re-designating the gender program coordinator apart
from the rest of the therapists who have provided gender related
mental health effectively destroys the gender program. This change
interferes with or terminates mental health care for the over 50
transsexual, gender non conforming and transgender clients currently
at the Center for Special Problems. There are very few monolingual
Spanish or Cantonese speaking gender sensitive therapists and this
change reduces accessible treatment.

A small accommodation that adds no additional expense on the part of
CBHS would save the Gender Program: co-locating the Gender Program
Coordinator with the HIV team, allows the Gender Program to remain in
existence and continue to care for the majority of the current
clients. CSP’s HIV team is committed to caring for gender clients,
seeing the connection between HIV and stigma in the transgender
population in San Francisco.

It is vital to keep this program in our city. Please reconsider the
termination of the Gender Program. I greatly appreciate your
consideration of this matter and hope you
will be able to preserve the care for these most vulnerable members of
our community.

Very truly yours,

SF Board of Supervisors & Mayor Newsome


Bevan Dufty,City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Pl.
Room 244
San Francisco, Ca 94102-4689
Voice: (415) 554-6968
Fax: (415) 554-6909

John AvalosDistrict 11
(415) 554-6975 - Voice
(415) 554-6979 - Fax

Chris Daly

District 6
(415) 554-7970 - Voice
(415) 554-7974 - Fax

Mark Leno

455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14800
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 557-1300
Fax: (415) 557-1252

Mayor Gavin Newsom

City Hall, Room 200
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
Telephone: (415) 554-6141
Fax: (415) 554-6160

DPH people to write to:

Barbara Garcia – Department of Public
Health Deputy Director,
Community Health Services
1380 Howard Street, Room 544
San Francisco, CA 94103

Robert Cabaj, MD – Director, Behavioral
Health Services
1380 Howard Street, Room 544
San Francisco, CA 94103

Edwin Batongbacal - Associate Director
Behavioral Health Services
1380 Howard Street, Room 544
San Francisco, CA 94103