LOS ANGELES — When Bridget, 57, moved from the East Coast to Los Angeles, she sought health care to maintain and monitor her hormone therapy.
She was quickly disappointed. One provider admitted he knew nothing about transgender health, and another called his transgender status a “medical issue”.
She then learned about Keck Medicine of USC’s Gender Affirming Care Program and met Laura Taylor, MD, Keck Medicine’s family medicine specialist and medical director of the program. Taylor has been Bridget’s primary care physician ever since.
As Bridget experienced, transgender people often face barriers to equitable health care. According to a 2021 study from the Center for American Progress, one in three transgender adults said they needed to tell their doctor about transgender health to receive appropriate care. Almost half said they had negative or discriminatory experiences with a health care provider.
To address the many health care disparities faced by transgender people, Keck Medicine launched the Gender Affirming Care Program to meet the comprehensive needs of the transgender, non-binary, and gender-diverse community. Services include everything from routine health care, such as preventive cancer screenings, annual checkups and flu shots, to hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery.
The program is made up of physicians from multiple disciplines, including family medicine, plastic surgery, gynecology, urology, and otolaryngology. Specialists in speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy are also available to patients.
A nurse navigator coordinates care with providers to ensure patients receive ongoing specialized treatment. Physicians and program staff have collectively received more than 600 hours of gender-affirming sensitivity and inclusivity training.
“Our program brings together a multidisciplinary group of physicians from all specialties to meet the specialized needs of this underserved population,” Taylor said. “We pride ourselves on offering a full range of healthcare services in a safe and supportive environment.”
Another key aspect of the gender-affirming care program is that it was designed with input from the local transgender community.
“Due to the historical marginalization of the transgender population, some community members view medical providers with suspicion,” said Roberto Travieso, MD, surgical director of the program. “It was important to bring our local community into the process as we built the program.”
As part of its outreach, Keck Medicine has partnered with The TransLatin @ Coalition, the largest trans-led nonprofit in Los Angeles that advocates for the needs of transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex immigrants across the country.
This collaboration helps Keck Medicine establish a strong foundation within the transgender community and provides ongoing feedback on how the program can better serve patients.
The gender-affirming care program had been in development for several years, but came to full fruition with the arrival of Taylor and Travieso at Keck Medicine in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Taylor is trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare and Travieso is trained in gender. – affirmation surgery.
Program officials hope to hire and train more gender-affirming practitioners, integrate more mental health services into care, and foster additional community partnerships.
Meanwhile, for patients like Bridget, the gender-affirming care program is a gift.
“I’m doing great under Dr. Taylor’s care, and I feel happy and healthy,” she said.
For more information about USC’s Keck Medicine, please visit news.KeckMedicine.org.
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