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Transgender health services top priority in Santa Clara County

Anthony Ross, left, is Santa Clara County’s program manager of transgender services in the Office of LGBTQ Affairs. His position is only the second of its kind in the nation. Ross is pictured with Ken Yeager, Santa Clara County Board Supervisor, and Maribel Martinez, director of the Office of LGBTQ Affairs. Photo: Santa Clara County.

Santa Clara County, California’s fifth largest, has become a state and national leader in addressing transgender health and wellness.

By the end of the year, the county will open its first transgender health clinic.

This week, the county, home to 1.9 million residents, became the second local government in the nation with a public official solely dedicated to addressing the needs of the transgender community. San Francisco is the other jurisdiction with such a position.

TRANSGENDER SERVICES

Anthony Ross, who started work Monday, works as transgender services program manager in the county’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs. Ross spent 15 years at Mountain View’s Adolescent Counseling Services as outlet program director for LGBTQ youth

“With Anthony on board, we will be able to dedicate time and energy to advancing efforts that improve the well-being and quality of life of transgender members who live in our county,” said Maribel Martinez, director of Santa Clara County’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

That office, which opened two years ago, is only one of its kind in the nation.

Ross is responsible for training healthcare and mental health providers, working with local schools and hospitals, and mediating and facilitating services at the county’s correctional facilities.

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TRANSGENDER HEALTH CLINIC

By the fall, the county’s first primary care facility is scheduled to open, officials said. It will be located in downtown San Jose in the Valley Health Center.

“One of the county’s greatest unmet health needs is the lack of transgender health services. I am excited to say that will soon no longer be the case,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager said. “Thanks to the new state-of-the-art transgender health clinic, individuals will no longer need to make the long journey out of the county to receive specialized medical services.”

Patients will be able to get most — if not all — of their needs met in the facility.

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Unlike other clinics where patients see their primary care physician in one location and a specialist in another department or building, this clinic will have primary cared and other clinical staff —  psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker — as part of a team in the same location, Martinez said.

Laboratory, imaging, and pharmacy services also will be in the same location, she said.

“This is a momentous decision,” Martinez said.  “We are raising the bar on what is possible in local government.”

About the author

Beatriz E. Valenzuela

Beatriz E. Valenzuela is an award-winning journalist who’s covered breaking news in Southern California since 2006 and has been on the front lines of national and international news events. She also covers all things nerd, including comic book culture and video games. She’s an amateur obstacle course racer, constant fact-checker, mother of three, and lover of all things geek.

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