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Panelists discuss trans physician cultural competency
by Matt Simonette
2019-09-18

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A panel of Chicagoans—all of them members of the city's transgender community—gathered at Malcom X College Sept. 13 to discuss the availability and importance of culturally competent healthcare.

The panel, moderated by Channyn Parker, Howard Brown Health's manager of external relations, featured Angelina Nordstrom, Soren Hodshire and Samantha Dunn. The discussion was part of a Howard Brown Health seminar on issues pertaining to transgender healthcare access.

An inherent difficulty lies at the center of transgender healthcare delivery. The patient's initial access can hinge on whether a provider, an insurance company or some other bureaucratic entity trusts the patient's sincerity about identifying as transgender or gender nonconforming, and agrees that gender dysphoria is even a valid concern in the first place.

The system is predicated on "gatekeeping based on assumptions of who you think I am," said Hodshire, who later added, "It's about knowing and trusting that [the patient] knows who they are."

Nordstrom emphasized that physicians who treat transgender patients have a significant role to play within that patient's support system, and, as such, need to understand the many facets of the transgender community, not just the immediate health needs of their patients.

"Even if it's not an employment obligation, it's a moral obligation," Nordstrom said. "…[They] must do the right thing at all times, not just on the clock."

Dunn ultimately concluded that the best physician is someone who "is going to help me mold into a better part of myself."


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