As we enter the first official month of summer, celebrating graduation and finals being over for students, our campus also celebrates Pride Month. At UHS, we recognize that transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) communities are significantly affected by mental health disparities and may face difficulty accessing and receiving health care. It is our mission to continually improve our services for TGNC communities, allowing all students to thrive at UW-Madison.
Research shows that there are many barriers to TGNC communities accessing health care including stigma, structural discrimination, and lack of knowledge of trans health by providers in health care settings. At UHS, we collaborate with the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center (GSCC) to help better meet the needs of historically underrepresented communities. By listening to members of TGNC communities and following their lead, we are working to understand the impact of oppression on health care disparities and actively work to eliminate bias in the delivery of health care.
UHS works to overcome barriers of care for TGNC students by providing trans health services that support both physical and mental wellbeing. One of the services provided at UHS is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). To receive HRT, students undergo an informed consent process that ensures they receive education about HRT and understand the risks and benefits. Providers help students make the best decision for themselves by centering the patient’s gender identity, helping students understand the impacts of HRT and surgery, and creating a treatment plan.
Starting HRT through informed consent is a journey. A student and UHS provider make a roadmap together, centering the student’s goals and concerns at every step of the way. “Treatment plans can change over time,” says Dr. Louise Latterell, a medical provider with trans health services. “We give students all the information to make the best decisions in the moment knowing that might change, but we can look back in the future and pivot with gentleness.” UHS accepts students wherever they are in their journey and work to support them in starting or accessing gender affirming medical care. There is no right or wrong way to start HRT.
To talk with a provider about starting hormones, continuing hormones, or getting a letter for surgery, students can book an initial appointment with a trans health provider through MyUHS or by calling 608-265-5600. From the first appointment, students and health care providers will create a care plan, discuss medical goals, answer questions, and talk through the next steps. After the initial appointment, follow-up appointments and care with a UHS provider will be scheduled three, six and 12 months apart.
Together, our campus celebrates Pride Month and uplifts TGNC and LGBTQ+ communities. At UHS, we support and affirm the decisions individuals make about their health care, and we will continuously strive to improve the care we provide. For more information on Pride activities on campus and in the community, see the UW-Madison Pride Month news release.