Summit Promotes Transgender Healthcare Knowledge


(Photo by Preston Zubal)

(Photo by Preston Zubal)
(Photo by Preston Zubal)

On Saturday, the School of Medicine hosted the second annual summit specific to transgender heath care.
The slogan for this year’s summit was “expanding knowledge of transgender healthcare,” which emphasized the different components of mental and medical health care within the transgender community.
Andy Rivera, the founder and coordinator of the summit and a senior in health promotion and education, said the summit was targeted to the care of this community because there has been a lack of attention to these individuals in the past.
“[It’s] a unique community in terms of the health needs,” Rivera said. “Not that they have different health needs, but the way they are receiving services isn’t what providers consider conventional … This is a population we need to be aware of; we need to understand how to properly interact with, respect, empathize and [make] sure we’re confident in the care we’re giving them.”
The summit provided a wide range of seminars, including an introductory session on cultural competency and sensitivity in utilizing the correct terminology and language. Holly Hancock, the speaker for the session, is an LGBTQ+ affirming therapist. She operates a private practice for LGBTQ+ individuals and set the foundation in using the correct language for medical providers working with transgender patients.
“The first thing is: Do no harm. That’s a definite must for all providers,” Hancock said. “Refer to someone as the gender they’re presenting or using gender neutral pronouns and chosen name. If you don’t know what their preferred name is, you ask, ‘What pronoun do you prefer?’ It’s that simple.”
Another panel of Utah medical providers shared their work on how their practice correlates to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health standard of health care. Loren Schechter, a plastic surgeon from Lutheran General Hospital in Chicago, said the different medical practices for transgender patients isn’t bound to the standards.
“The real recognition is that these are flexible guidelines that have barriers, and they can be applied individually with respect to every individual’s unique circumstances,” Schechter said.
Other components of the summit included a panel for patients to share their stories and experiences with health care workers and an advocacy workshop with Equality Utah to teach providers how to advocate for the transgender community.
Rivera said the summit was important to the U specifically because of the U’s reputation for being a major medical resource facility.
Evelyn Gopez, the associate dean of inclusion and outreach at the U’s School of Medicine, said ensuring a stable environment for the transgender community is a necessity.
“Health is a fundamental human right,” Gopez said. “We in the health profession want to give the best health care for all our patients regardless of who they are, where they come from and what their background may be.”
[email protected]