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November is Transgender Awareness Month

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

In response to an increase in patients at OSH who identify as transgender or nonbinary, a team of OSH clinicians have started Transgender Care Therapy Certification training to create a gender-affirming care team.

“Our goal is to become a center of excellence to provide gender-affirming care to a population of people who would have a hard time accessing this care in the community," said Dr. Sara Walker, OSH Chief Medical Officer.

The 12-person team includes psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers, among others. They've been participating in a 56-hour intensive training developed by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, an organization known for setting the standards for trans health for decades.

“The training will help staff better support patients who identify as transgender or nonbinary," said Nina Perard, OSH Diversity Liaison.

“There's such a need," she said. “LGBTQ+ is disproportionately represented in the hospital and there are specific needs we have to meet. Gender-affirming care is an equity issue."

Perard said she receives more referrals for transgender patients at OSH than existing resources can support. Transgender patients at OSH have been referred to OHSU's transgender treatment clinic for several years. Due to the increasing number of referrals, it has grown more difficult to transport and schedule timely appointments for OSH patients at the OHSU clinic.

 “With this wrap-around care and having every discipline represented, it will enable us to provide holistic, integrated care that I can't do alone," Perard said.

“The trained staff will help develop the hospital's gender-affirming care model and help train and educate other staff members," Walker said.

“People are really hungry for information and want to meet patients' needs," Walker continued. “The treatment teams feel passionately about caring for people and there's difficulty inherent in relying on outside providers for this care. Working in-house gives us more ability to meet our patients' needs and it's also satisfying for the practitioners to be able to fully support those needs."

“Gender-affirming care is necessary for ensuring patients have what they need to go through their journey of recovery and that staff have the tools needed to help," Perard noted.

“We know that providing gender-affirming care decreases suicidality and reduces self-harm," she said. “We know that gender dysphoria is a primary diagnosis. It can be a barrier to their recovery. When people provide gender-affirming care, staff feel supported and have greater job satisfaction, too." ​



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