Sex Week hosts conference on navigating transgender health care | New
Harvard Sex Week held a talk on Friday at Emerson Hall about navigating health care as a transgender person.
The event, titled “Accessing Healthcare with the Trans+ Community,” featured guest speaker Robbin Russel, who shared resources for gender-affirming healthcare and his personal experiences as a transgender person.
Russel’s speech focused on self-advocacy and medical resources for transgender people while acknowledging the complicated reality of the American healthcare system.
Russel recommended OutCare Health and TransCare Site as online resources for finding health care that is both gender-affirming and LGBTQ-supportive, adding that social media platforms such as Reddit and Discord could also be helpful.
Russel said Fenway Health – a Boston health center providing preventive and curative care for LGBTQ patients – has been “invaluable” and “unparalleled”. For hormone therapies, Russel appointed Planned Parenthood as the provider of hormone therapies for transgender patients.
In addition to healthcare suggestions, her lecture focused on transgender people’s self-advocacy in the face of a “nightmare complex” healthcare system that she says poses additional barriers for transgender people.
“Being able to be an advocate for yourself is very important as a trans person navigating healthcare,” Russel said.
Although Russel acknowledges that self-advocacy can sometimes be uncomfortable, she said she thinks it’s often worth it. She encouraged attendees to “never be ashamed” of needing to correct someone for a gender mistake.
“You deserve to be treated at least with the right pronouns and the right name,” Russel said.
“Regaining power in this situation is also very difficult,” she added. “The best way to do this is usually the simplest.”
Russel added that while self-representation is essential, comfort is the “most important thing”.
“Do whatever makes you most comfortable, and if people around you are causing trouble, remove yourself from the situation,” Russel said.
Although Russel acknowledged the challenges that LGBTQ and specifically transgender people face in the US healthcare system, she said she believes there has been progress.
“Right now we have more trans seniors than ever before, which is great,” she said. “It also means there is more healthcare available than ever before.”
Russel concluded by reminding attendees to advocate for respect for those around them, including in the medical system.
“Remember that you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and people deserve to know that their healthcare providers will do the same,” Russel said.
—Editor Darley AC Boit can be reached at [email protected]