A groundbreaking initiative, the Gender Affirming Care Clinic, opened its doors in mid-June 2023 to provide a wide range of crucial services to individuals at all stages of their gender affirmation journeys. The clinic, in partnership with Dr. Sara Thomas, is located in the Mt. A Wellness Centre on the ground floor of the Wallace McCain Student Centre. Dr. Thomas, who had been working at the Wellness Centre throughout the school year, played a pivotal role in the establishment of the clinic with her interest in gender affirming care.
Gender affirming care, which typically includes a range of social, psychological, behavioral, and medical interventions, is designed to support and affirm an individual’s gender identity by addressing various aspects of their well-being. Social interventions might involve aspects like changing one’s name, pronouns, and presentation in a way that aligns with one’s gender identity. Psychological interventions refer to mental health support, including therapy or counselling, to help individuals with issues such as gender dysphoria, anxiety, depression, or any emotional challenges related to their gender identity. Behavioral interventions can encompass strategies to help individuals develop coping mechanisms, communication skills, and strategies for managing stress or dealing with social expectations. Medical interventions typically include hormone therapy (Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT) and gender affirming surgeries. These medical interventions aim to align an individual’s physical characteristics with their gender identity.
Dr. Thomas expressed her passion for this service and the opportunity to extend support to a broader community. Matthew Maston, the director of accessibility and student wellness, stated that the clinic was interested in exploring new options to extend their reach and saw this idea as a great opportunity to further establish their connections to the broader community.
One of the defining features of the Gender Affirming Care Clinic is its accessibility. In a move designed to break down barriers and to ensure everyone in need of care can access it, the clinic eliminated the need for referrals in September. Not needing a referral allows individuals to access gender-affirming care easily and quickly, reducing the hurdles faced on the journey to gender affirmation. Now, anyone interested can easily schedule an appointment by contacting [email protected] or calling 506-364-2163. Currently, appointments are available on Monday afternoons, either in-person at the Wellness Centre, or virtually.
Maston notes that the clinic offers a unique approach to care, ensuring that individuals receive the specific support they need on their journey towards gender affirmation. The clinic distinguishes itself through its removal of referral requirements, its commitment to inclusivity, its flexible appointment options, its positive impact on the community it serves, and its comprehensive services. The wide range of services offered in the gender affirming care clinic include starting or continuing hormone replacement therapy, referrals, gender-affirming surgery support, and other related inquiries. This comprehensive approach ensures that individuals can receive all-encompassing support in one place.
Since opening, the clinic has received plenty of positive feedback. Maston says it will be the start of better relationships with students and the community alike. The clinic has become a beacon of hope emphasizing its commitment to the students as well as the wider community and further cementing its role in providing essential resources for those in need. The new Gender Affirming Care Clinic is a symbol of progress and inclusivity, providing vital services to many individuals in need. As it continues to grow and serve its community, it stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and compassion in healthcare.