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Gender affirming health care providers in the Triangle share services, resources

trans flag.jpg

DTH Photo Illustration. Local clinics and health care providers offer gender-affirming care — a variety of services and resources that can help transgender and genderqueer individuals feel aligned with their gender identity.

Amid a wave of legislation concerning transgender people — like H.B. 808 and H.B. 574 in the N.C. General Assembly — local clinics and health care providers offer gender-affirming care within their specializations and practices.

Gender-affirming care refers to a variety of services and resources that can help transgender and genderqueer individuals feel aligned with their gender identity, including hormone replacement therapy, surgical interventions and primary care.

Several health care providers in the Triangle are working to create accessible, gender-affirming spaces within their own practices.

The Student Health Action Coalition

The Student Health Action Coalition is a collaboration with student volunteers within a variety of UNC schools to provide free health care for underserved North Carolinians. Their gender-affirming care clinic offers telehealth appointments to patients across the state over the age of 18.

SHAC’s gender-affirming care clinic is staffed by four attending providers as well as fourth-year medical students at UNC who have been trained on gender-affirming care. Clinic coordinators asked to remain anonymous for their personal safety.

“This is a medical space where (patients) can trust their providers to not just prescribe them something, but also affirm their gender as a person and help them on that journey,” one clinic coordinator said.

The clinic offers hormone replacement therapies, as well as referrals for surgeries or specialized care, like speech therapy.

A clinic coordinator said gender-affirming care doesn’t have to refer to medical interventions, and that the clinic works to provide a gender-affirming environment, support and gender and sexual education as well as meet the medical needs of patients.

They also said several of the student providers identify as queer, which has been instrumental in building a sense of community and understanding of patients.

UNC Campus Health

Michelle Camarena, director of nursing and performance improvement at UNC Campus Health, said patients interested in gender-affirming care can schedule an appointment with primary care and gynecology providers.

“Our mission is to help students thrive during their time at Carolina,” she said. “We want to do what fits into helping them be successful in their lives and academic experience.”

No documentation or mental health evaluation is required to receive hormone treatment, which Camarena said is offered at Campus Health alongside surgical referrals. She said students may also access mental health care through Counseling and Psychological Services.

“It’s very much a patient-driven process,”  Stephanie Edwards-Latchu, a gynecology nurse practitioner at Campus Health, said. “And that’s one of the things that I really love about it.”

Edwards-Latchu said patients seeking hormone therapy typically complete preliminary labs at their first appointment at Campus Health, and return to begin therapy upon a follow-up visit.

Triangle Wellness & Recovery

Lydia Johnson is a family nurse practitioner at Triangle Wellness & Recovery — a practice based in Cary that provides care for mental and physical health symptoms including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and addictions.

Johnson provides primary care and hormone replacement therapy using an informed consent model. She said that while Triangle Wellness & Recovery usually only provides primary care for patients of the practice, transgender people can receive primary care and hormone replacement therapy without being an existing patient.

“Our goal, within this practice, is to remove barriers for people who very often encounter a lot of them,” she said. “I tried to make access to services that are really needed and life-saving available without burden or barrier.”

Duke Health

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Dr. Clayton Alfonso, an OB-GYN at Duke Health, said he provides any care that someone with a uterus might need, including contraception, STI screening and routine pap smears, cancer screenings and pelvic exams. Alfonso also performs gender-affirming surgeries that involve gynecology, such as hysterectomies.

“I think it’s important to seek out resources in an affirming space,” they said.

As an openly gay man, he said it is important to advocate for people seeking gender-confirming care, especially those who might have experienced discrimination seeking health care elsewhere.

Alfonso said Duke Family Medicine Center, Duke Endocrinology and Duke Child and Adolescent Gender Care Clinic are other useful resources for gender-affirming care, including hormone therapy, within the Duke Health system.

@caitlyn_yaede

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com


Caitlyn Yaede

Caitlyn Yaede is the 2023-24 print managing editor of The Daily Tar Heel and oversees weekly print production. She previously served as the DTH's opinion editor and summer editor. Caitlyn is a public policy master's student at UNC.

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