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  • The San Juan Daily Star

MVC, PD disagree on dropped gender-sensitivity requirement for health professionals

Dr. César Vázquez

By The Star Staff

Sen. Rafael Bernabe Riefkohl rejected on Monday a government order that eliminates a requirement that all health professionals take a course to avoid gender-based and gender identity discrimination.

But the head of the Dignity Project political party, César Vázquez, a physician, said the course had very little to do with medicine and more with propaganda.

On July 21, the Department of Health eliminated Administrative Order (OA) No. 398 of Dec. 21, 2018, which established a requirement for health professionals to take training courses aligned with the public policy of non-discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation when offering health services.

Bernabe said “orders and training such as these are essential to overcome the forms of discrimination, prejudice, and ignorance that still prevail over these topics.”

“We know that there are some professionals who have objected to the courses for alleged religious reasons. It seems to us that discrimination is discrimination, no matter if it is justified by appealing to history, culture or religion,” the Citizens Victory Movement senator said. “That doesn’t change the matter. … Public policy, including that of the agencies that regulate, and regulate the professions, must be to fight relentlessly and without fear all forms of discrimination, in this case against the LGBTTIQA+ community.”

Bernabe rejected what he said are actions against the LGBTTIQA+ community by the Department of Health and demanded that the agency fulfill its commitment and duty to move toward equity and inclusion, and restore continuing education courses as soon as possible to achieve that goal in all aspects of society.

“There should be no room for hate in any sector, but above all, in access to an essential and fundamental service such as health,” he said. “From our office we will continue in the Legislature and on the street in the fight for equity.”

Vázquez said via social media that the course is a propaganda tool that seeks to legitimize the sexual behavior of certain groups.

He said the course attacks religion, defines religious interventions as reparative therapies, and pushes the teaching of a gender perspective in the education of children and young people.

In the end, he said the course seeks to normalize particular sexual behaviors.

“It is pure propaganda,” Vázquez said. “I expected a description of health conditions that significantly affect this social group. That did not happen. And it did not happen because doctors know that these sexual behaviors facilitate a number of health problems. If the Department of Health has valor, they will make the video public.”

“Doctors, for the most part, do not discriminate,” he said. “We are trained to serve everyone; even if a disease is related to a behavior such as alcoholism, substance use, smoking, drunk driving and sexual promiscuity, understand, heterosexual and non-heterosexual.”

“To properly treat the patient we need to know the truth,” Vázquez continued in the post. “Doctors need to know the real gender of a person before surgeries or drugs.”

“I want to give an example related to the practice of cardiology,” he said. “If I have a 45-year-old patient with chest pain; if he is a man I think first of a problem with the circulation of the heart, but if he is a woman I think first of a clot in the lung. If she is a transsexual woman, understand, a man who claims to be a woman, it could be either of the two because he must be using high doses of female hormones. In this way, each area of medical practice will have its particularities, but they all depend on communicating the truth, what we are, not what we want to be.”

“I want to reaffirm that all of us, regardless of our sexuality, deserve respect, should have opportunities to advance, and need protection …,” the Dignity Project leader said. “The course of sensitivity toward the LGBTTQ community is a propaganda tool that has no useful purpose for medicine. Besides, it is a shameful attack on religion and it is offensive to those who have particular values. It must be repealed.”

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