New service is a part of a larger initiative to better serve transgender patients
BOSTON—Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) is now offering gender affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) for transgender patients. This service, which includes the prescription of the hormones estrogen or testosterone, helps affirm a patient’s gender identity, decrease symptoms of gender dysphoria, and enhance a patient’s quality of life.
“Planned Parenthood health centers provide vital health care services for all people, regardless of gender expression or gender identity. No matter who you are, you can rely on us for a range of health care services including STI testing and treatment, cancer screenings, birth control, safe and legal abortion–and now gender-affirming hormone therapy,” said Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, PPLM CEO. “We’ve long provided the kind of high-quality, inclusive, compassionate care patients seeking gender affirming hormone therapy need. Offering gender affirming hormone therapy will allow us to better meet the needs of the transgender patients we’re already serving, as well as provide a much-needed service for other transgender individuals across Massachusetts.”
Members of focus groups convened by PPLM noted that it can be difficult to find providers offering hormone therapy and that there is a need for better access to this care in nonjudgmental, inclusive environments in Massachusetts. Systemic discrimination and insufficient understanding of transgender identities among health care providers also make it difficult for transgender people, especially transgender people of color to access quality health care. A national survey found that, of transgender people seeking health care, 33 percent of respondents reported having at least one negative experience with a health care provider in the past year related to being transgender, including verbal harassment, refusal of treatment, or having to teach the health care provider about transgender people to receive appropriate care.
PPLM aims to provide gender affirming hormone therapy in an inclusive environment that acknowledges the full spectrum of gender identities and is free of unnecessary barriers to care. PPLM follows an informed care model: PPLM patients are not required to see a therapist and do not need referrals to receive hormone therapy services because they know what is best for themselves. PPLM has also upgraded electronic medical records to better capture patients’ gender identity and gender pronouns, trained all staff on gender identity and transgender-inclusive care, provided staff with lapel pins displaying their pronouns, and installed gender-inclusive bathroom signs at its health centers.
“All people need and deserve quality health care, and should be treated with dignity and respect. Transgender people are no exception,” Childs-Roshak said. “As political attacks make it harder for our patients to lead healthy, safe lives, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts is proud to serve as a partner in combatting barriers to care and to reaffirm our commitment to the health and rights of the transgender community.”
Patients seeking gender-affirming hormone therapy can visit PPLM health centers in Boston, Springfield, Fitchburg, and Marlborough, and at the Worcester location by the end of the 2018 calendar year. Most insurance, including MassHealth, covers this hormone therapy. PPLM will also provide sliding scale options for those who qualify.
PPLM has partnered with the creative visual and design firm AMIR NOW INC. and local members of the transgender community on a multimedia visual campaign titled “My Care. My Way.” The health campaign will educate and inform the community about PPLM providing hormone therapy and its model of informed consent.