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May 24, 2019

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At roundtable, Susie Lee says she is an advocate for the LGBT community

Lee

John Locher / AP

Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., speaks at the Battle Born Progress Progressive Summit, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, in North Las Vegas.

Rep. Susie Lee held a roundtable Thursday to determine the best way forward to advance LGBTQ rights. Among the topics discussed were health issues, sensitivity training and President Donald Trump’s transgender ban in the military.

“I think it’s important for them to know they have a fighter in me in Washington,” Lee said.

Sensitivity training was mentioned as a need by several participants in the roundtable, and Lee said she was receptive.

Sybrina Bernabei, an advocacy services coordinator with Gender Justice Nevada, said members of the LGBTQ community may have a distrust of health care providers, based on past experiences — including conversion therapy and a lack of affirmation of identity or orientation.

"When that happens in our community, we just don’t access (health care providers),” she said.

Trump’s actions were brought up multiple times, with Lee saying she would support his ambitious goal, mentioned in the State of the Union, of eliminating HIV transmission by 2030. The group was far more critical of his decision to ban transgender service members in the military, an unpopular opinion that the majority of the country opposes, polls say.

Frankie Perez, an Air Force veteran, said the idea that transgender service members cost the military more money is a myth. He said that when he transitioned, the changes were minor.

“It was very small adjustments we had to make. There was no need to build a new facility. There were no costs involved,” he said.

Lee said she and other Congress members have goals in advancing LGBTQ rights, including the passage of a law protecting workers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. An act that would do this, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, is a near-constant debate in Congress, with various versions coming before the body since the early '90s.

Lee said she is confident that meaningful legislation will advance through both bodies, if the left highlights the need for a push for equality.

“I find it hard for people to come down on equality, I really do,” she said.