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Since Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest started offering gender-affirming care in 2019, there have been many teams involved in building out and expanding this program. From the staff and volunteers who go out into the community to educate and build awareness, to the Care Coordination team that helps patients access health care and social services, and finally to the gender-affirming hormone therapy providers themselves, Planned Parenthood has a robust circle of care for our patients seeking gender-affirming services.  

Many people are still unaware of the full range of services that we provide at Planned Parenthood, including gender-affirming care. For that reason, we continue to promote this lifesaving service on our website, social media, ads, and through our Promotorx Program. One promotorx, Elizabeth Cortez, shares this story about the rewarding experience of building awareness in the community about gender-affirming care at Planned Parenthood: 

“I’ve had many rewarding moments...when a person who was totally desperate, not knowing where to go and without the means to start their hormone treatment, came to us. And, fortunately, we have that service. I remember when he went and found out he could do it there; I saw him again and he gave me a hug. That's very rewarding; knowing you are helping the community.” 

The gender-affirming care program, including gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) visits, has grown at an incredible pace. We tripled the number of visits in the last two years from about 800 visits per year in 2021 to over 2,500 in 2023. Furthermore, we’ve continued to expand the number of health centers where GAHT is available and the number of providers expertly trained in this service. We now have seven health centers and 11 providers expertly trained in this service. Telehealth visits for consultations continue to increase access to GAHT as well. At Planned Parenthood, we work diligently to create a safe space for our trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming patients. One patient named Dylan says, "Planned Parenthood is definitely a place to go as a trans patient because they are kind, understanding, and really receptive to calling you by what you want to be called, which is extremely important.” Our staff receives training on using correct pronouns and our new electronic health records system makes sure that we use patients’ chosen names and correct pronouns. We value affirming peoples’ identities and that includes using the right gender markers. 

Patient and Supporter: Dylan

Gender-affirming care is not just about hormone therapy, although that is the main medical service sought for aligning one's gender expression with one’s physical characteristics. Gender-affirming care can also include name/gender marker change assistance and referrals for hair removal services, voice coaching, fertility resources, family support, therapy, and letters of support for gender-affirming surgery. That’s where our Care Coordination team comes in. This team specializes in services that go beyond medical care and delves into social and emotional support. They follow up with patients and seek to make transitioning as stress-free as possible. Here’s one patient success story from our Care Coordination team: 

Care Coordination was referred a patient receiving gender-affirming hormone therapy who shared that he was interested in top surgery. Care Coordination assisted the patient in finding a mental health provider for a referral letter, navigating the referral process with his PCP, and finding a surgeon. When the process felt overwhelming for the patient, Care Coordination called the patient’s insurance and surgeon’s office with him for additional support and advocacy. After several months navigating insurance and surgeon requirements, this patient had top surgery and described the experience as “euphoric.” With Care Coordination, this patient successfully navigated the complicated surgery process to access care that was essential to his transition and wellbeing. 

At Planned Parenthood, we know that gender-affirming care saves lives. It’s well documented that gender dysphoria (the feeling of mismatch between how you want to express your gender and some of your physical aspects and/or being misgendered by other people) causes anxiety and suicidal ideation and that gender-affirming care decreases that dysphoria and boosts positive mental health. We are proud to offer gender-affirming hormone therapy at our health centers, compassionate care coordination, and to continue building awareness and equitable health care access in our communities. Here’s to 5 years of gender-affirming care for all and many more!  


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