LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — University police are in the midst of investigating a letter with anti-transgender medical care rhetoric that a UNLV representative said was sent by someone impersonating their president.
A representative of UNLV said the message was directed towards a “partner” clinic that offers gender-affirming care. The World Health Organization defines this kind of healthcare as “any single or combination of a number of social, psychological, behavioral or medical (including hormonal treatment or surgery) interventions designed to support and affirm an individual’s gender identity.”
“The university was recently notified by one of our healthcare partners stating that they’d received what was believed to be a fraudulent letter representing UNLV and outlining care for patients referred to this provider by our gender care team. The origins of the letter, which was confirmed to be fraudulent, are being investigated by University Police Services,” the UNLV representative wrote in a statement to 8 News Now Friday morning.
No additional details were provided as to the contents of the letter when it was first received by the university or University Police or the motive of the writer.
Dr. Salvatore Biazzo is Chief Medical Officer for UNLV’s Student Health Center, where he brought a “first of its kind” program in Nevada higher education – the gender care team – to treat transgender and non-conforming student care in 2019.
“From what I gathered, it was a cease and desist-type of letter,” Biazzo said during a phone interview Friday afternoon. “This is a population that traditionally is sicker than the rest of the population.”
While police continue their investigation, LGBTQ+ advocates and clinics in the Vegas Valley said letters and threats like this are all too common. They are still concerned, however, about how they may impact providers continuing to offer these services.
Chris Davin, executive director for both the Henderson and North Las Vegas Equality Centers where gender-affirming care assistance is offered, indicates his locations frequently receive messages like this.
“There’s not that many locations or doctors that specialize in gender-affirming care here,” Davin said outside of the North Las Vegas location Friday morning. “Is it going to be impactful for, you know, them to lose their license? A lot of organizations now are 18 and over, so that way, it’s at the legal age. But at the same time, it does scare the providers.”
Dr. Leana Ramirez, Chief Clinical Officer of The LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada – also known as The Center – points to national threats that have persuaded some providers to eliminate this care altogether in their practices.
“Doctors are walking into the clinic doors and they’re getting rocks thrown at them,” Ramirez said outside The Center Friday afternoon. “It’s a healthcare system. Whenever you limit care and access, it causes more problems and more concerns.”
Biazzo also said gender-affirming care significantly reduces suicide rates and mental health struggles within the transgender and non-conforming community, leaving him focused on the mission of the gender care team he’s nurtured over nearly half a decade.
“This is working against what we’ve been trying to do to establish better, quality healthcare for folks that really need it,” Biazzo said. “If somebody doesn’t know that it’s a fraudulent letter, that can be taken very seriously.”
“We believe everyone should have access to medical and mental health care in an environment that’s supportive, accepting, and respectful,” the UNLV representative wrote to 8 News Now.