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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 they knew nothing about transgender health, and another labeled her transgender status as a “medical problem.”
She then discovered the Keck Medicine of USC Gender-Affirming Care Program and met with Laura Taylor, MD, a Keck Medicine family medicine specialist and medical director of the program. Taylor has been Bridget’s primary care doctor 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 had to teach their doctors about transgender health to receive appropriate care. Nearly one-half reported having negative or discriminatory experiences with a health care provider.
To address the many health care disparities faced by transgender individuals, Keck Medicine has launched the Gender-Affirming Care Program to meet the comprehensive needs of the transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse community. Services include everything from routine health care, such as preventive cancer screenings, yearly checkups and flu shots, to gender-affirming hormone therapy and surgery.
The program is comprised of physicians from several disciplines including family medicine, plastic surgery, gynecology, urology and otolaryngology. Specialists in voice, occupational and physical therapy are also available to patients.
A nurse navigator coordinates care with the providers to ensure patients receive seamless specialized treatment. The 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 across specialties to address the specialized needs of this underserved population,” said Taylor. “We’re proud to offer a full range of health care 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 historic marginalization of the transgender population, some within the community view medical providers with distrust,” said Roberto Travieso, MD, surgical director of the program. “It was important to make our local community part of the process as we built the program.”
As part of its outreach, Keck Medicine partnered with The TransLatin@ Coalition, the largest trans-led nonprofit organization 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 best serve patients.
The Gender-Affirming Care Program was in development for several years, but came to full fruition with the arrival of Taylor and Travieso to Keck Medicine, respectively in 2020 and 2021. Taylor is trained in LGBTQ+ health care and Travieso is fellowship-trained in gender-affirming surgery.
The program leaders hope to hire and train more gender-affirming practitioners, build 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 am doing really well under Dr. Taylor’s care, and feeling happy and healthy,” she said.
For more information about Keck Medicine of USC, please visit news.KeckMedicine.org.
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