1 min

Trans opinions asked

New gender clinic in works

GETTING A SAY: Trans people throughout BC have been asked for Credit: Xtra West files

Trans people in BC are finally getting a say in the kind of health services they want to receive.

Last year, BC’s only gender clinic stopped accepting new patients and phased its existing ones out the door, after budget cuts at Vancouver Hospital gutted its staff.

The clinic’s closure left trans people without access to BC’s only accredited referral service for sex reassignment surgery-not to mention its centralized hormone, electrolysis and counselling services.

Now, the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA), which runs the hospital, is taking steps to fill the void. And it’s actively seeking input from trans people in the process.

“There’s been a real acknowledgement that the community has expertise,” says Joshua Goldberg, chair of Victoria’s trans support group, Transcend. “I do feel the community has been listened to and taken seriously.”

The VCHA’s community liaison won’t release too many details, but she will say that plans for a new gender clinic are underway-and they’re based in large part upon the results of a survey the health authority distributed to trans people last fall.

“Good health planning can’t happen in a vacuum,” Maria Hudspith says. “Involving service users and care providers is essential.”

The survey, designed in conjunction with a coalition of trans groups, asked trans people to rate BC’s existing health care services and describe what they would see as an ideal scenario.

More than 70 percent of respondents said they have trouble finding good, respectful practitioners trained in transitioning issues, especially in rural areas.

They also said they’d like to keep one centralized, one-stop-shopping-type clinic similar to the old one at Vancouver Hospital, and add regional “pods” of qualified care providers around the province.

Hudspith says the VCHA is working on it.

The health authority is looking at incorporating video-conferencing technology into its new Vancouver clinic; it’s also encouraging other regional health authorities to develop their own services for trans people.

The old clinic’s closure isn’t all bad, Goldberg told Xtra West last fall. “It’s a great opportunity to re-think things.”

Hudspith expects to have more details about the VCHA’s new clinic in a few weeks.