Michael-David Carpenter was elected as the new president for Blue Ridge Pride Center.

New prez takes helm

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Blue Ridge Pride Center has announced that it has elected Michael-David Carpenter as its 2016 president.

In an email dispatch, Carpenter shared that the center has several ways by which to become involved and lend support. Opportunity options are The White Party (its annual fundraiser to support the fight against HIV/AIDS), the annual 5k Pride Run, the Winter Wonderland Party, The Miss Blue Ridge Pride Pageant and the annual Pride Festival.

They have also added a new event this year with an LGBTQ Wedding Expo and Conference on April 9, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at the DoubleTree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore, 115 Hendersonville Rd.

Organizers said, “This three part event will feature a conference with panels and guest speakers addressing marriage and commitment within the LGBT community. Secondly, there will be an expo featuring Asheville’s LGBT-friendly wedding vendors. Additionally, there will be a group commitment ceremony where couples can marry or renew their vows to one another followed by a lively reception. The American Red Cross will also be on site for a blood drive. This event is open to all members of the LGBT community and allies.”

“Seminars will be held to guide couples on wedding preparations, as well as legal issues from taxes, adoptions, estates, government benefits and many other important topics including transgender issues. The event will also have local vendors set up to display their services,” Carpenter added.

info: blueridgepride.org.

Partnership formed for trans healthcare

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — An expanded partnership has been formed between the Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) and Western North Carolina Community Health Services (WNCCHS) to promote the WNCCHS Transgender Health Program (THP).

The program is a groundbreaking model for delivery of culturally-competent, integrated medical care to transgender individuals across Western North Carolina.

CSE has donated $10,000 toward funding the program which was originally launched in 2007 and serves over 200 clients. The infusion will enable the THP to grow its primary care services, as well as continue the high quality of integrated services that is currently provided, the partners shared.

Pioneered by WNCCHS, the program covers 18 Western North Carolina counties. Patients of WNCCHS who are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level number 95 percent. Many do not have health insurance.

Nationally, transgender individuals are subjected to harassment in healthcare settings at a rate of 28 percent according to a 2010 National Center for Transgender Equality report. They also may have their specific healthcare needs overlooked and are at a higher rate of suicide attempts compared to the general population.

“Our service area for transgender health and HIV care is large and rural, and we have learned the impact of stigma on an individual’s ability to receive healthcare services. We strive to provide appropriate, up-to-date, evidence-based care for our trans patients, including preventive services, behavioral health services, hormone therapy, general medical care, and referral to community resources. Along with these direct patient services, we have had a mission to educate other healthcare providers in Asheville and other communities to increase access to healthcare for transgender patients. We recognize that there is a huge gap in healthcare that is accessible and appropriate for transgender patients in the United States, and we are thrilled that this donation will allow us to work with the Campaign for Southern Equality to expand access to services for all patients,” said Dr. Jennifer Abbott, director of WNCCHS Transgender Health Program.

“WNCCHS is at the cutting edge of providing transgender healthcare in the South — they provide accessible, integrated services and, just as critically, treat people with dignity, respect and affirmation from the time they walk in the door. The need for these services could not be more urgent. Their model is working, their team is incredible and what they need is more resources to serve more people. We are honored to provide that,” Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, CSE’s executive director, said.

info: southernequality.org. wncchs.org.

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Share your news with us
Does your organization or special interest group have events or great information to share with our readers? If so, be sure to send in your information to specialassignments@goqnotes.com. In the upcoming months, we’ll feature one of you in our news notes section in each issue. Are you a part of a Meetup, Yahoo or Google group and do you do something that’s really newsworthy? Do you provide a service for the community or hold fundraisers for worthy causes? Do you educate the public about LGBT issues or concerns? Of course, this is only a sampling of things we are interested in. It’s the aim of these pieces to inform, enlighten and educate our readers about what we’re doing here in the Carolinas to champion LGBT rights, as well as offer resources for those who may be interested in what your group is doing.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen is QNotes' former associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director.