UC Santa Barbara’s student healthcare has begun to expand gender-affirming healthcare over the past five years. The effort is supported by UCSB’s Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, an on-campus organization advocating for adequate medical care for transgender and queer students.
The Student Health Service (SHS) initiative is led by a gender-affirming healthcare team led by a nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife who has a specialty in gender-affirming medical care.
“The biggest thing we do is help people with medical infections because we are medical care providers,” Magna said.
SHS provides a list of gender-affirming care services including hormone therapy – with prescription of testosterone or estradiol – sexual and reproductive health care, physical health assessment and treatment, nutritional counselling, social work services, mental health and specialist referral and injectable drug training and support, among others.
The expansion was instigated in 2017 after student activism surrounding the inadequacy of gender-affirming care at SHS at the time, according to UCSB public relations manager Kiki Reyes and Magna. Magaña was employed in response to one of the demands made to SHS in 2019 and tasked with recruiting a professional with an expertise in gender-affirming care.
Magna said, “I’m always impressed by students and what student activism can really do.” “It makes a huge difference on our campus and definitely affects some other UC campuses in the way we operate.”
An increasing number of students are accessing gender-affirming care at SHS, with 19 students with a gender dysphoria diagnosis being cared for in 2017 and 94 students with a gender dysphoria diagnosis so far in the current academic year.
“One could say, ‘26,000 students enrolled, so that’s a really small percentage,'” Magna said in reference to the numbers. “But, if we can take care of at least one of ours, we’ve got everyone else covered.”
To navigate the range of resources and services available to those experiencing gender dysphoria, SHS has social workers individually consult with UCSB clients to assess which care option is best for them, their insurance And indicate what services are available to them.
The center does not offer operative surgery as medical procedures of that nature must be performed in a hospital setting. SHS also does not offer vocal therapy as they do not have a vocal coach employed. These treatments are initiated primarily through external referrals from surgeons and medical centers in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, California.
Under the UC student health insurance plan, the gender-affirming care team recently expanded its coverage of laser hair removal anywhere on the body starting in the 2022-23 academic year. Magana stresses the importance of this extension, saying it can often resolve gender dysphoric feelings for clients who have unwanted hair on other areas of the body.
“If you have hair on your hands, it’s very hard to shave your hands … So, it’s very hard to modify yourself,” Magna said. “It’s a very strong indicator of gender in our society so we were really happy to see that change.”
SHS achieved this progress in gender-affirming care partly because of monthly meetings with the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (RCSGD), where they discuss the staffing and services of the gender-affirming care team at SHS, Focus and possible changes in other feedback on the current functions of the Center.
,[RCSGD] all sex- [and] gender-minority students,” said Magna.
Magana said these monthly meetings are helpful to SHS, giving the center an opportunity to assess the campus community in its entirety and its needs regarding gender-affirming care, which the team often does not receive.
Magna said, “We may not be seeing everyone because we are seeing people who are accessing medical care, and many people — especially people who are non-binary or gender identify as non-conforming – who may not need hormones to confirm their gender.” “We [want to] understand what the campus health needs are and what’s going on and what kind of [RCSGD] hearing about. What can we do to support students?”
Such meetings have led to the organization of health care panels in collaboration with the RCSGD – the most recent of which took place on November 4 – to educate students about hormone care and access to other medical services at SHS . The pair also made presentations on hormone care, bodily autonomy, and the real experience of receiving reproductive health care for those on the gender spectrum, among other topics.
“We’ve been able to work really closely with everyone at RCSGD … and we have a relationship that if [RCSGD] hears of something that they feel needs immediate attention, we do not wait,” Magana said.
According to Magna, according to insurance requirements, it is mandatory for patients to receive a diagnosis of gender dysphoria in order to proceed with surgery, which indicates that there is a disparity between one’s perceived gender and the gender assigned at birth.
A letter of mental health readiness is also required to qualify for the surgical procedure, which is issued by UCSB’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) in collaboration with SHS. If the surgery involves reproductive organs, the client needs to obtain two of these letters from two different professionals in CAPS
Magna said the center provides a venue for consultations and questions on post-surgery care and general surgical follow-up.
Vocal therapy does not require a letter from a mental health professional, but does require a referral. According to Magna, coaching is often done in the Bay Area only. This procedure looks very similar to laser hair removal, is based on referrals and is performed by local providers who are in SHS’s network.
Looking ahead, the gender-affirming care team hopes to increase training for SHS staff on topics such as correct pronoun use, and to expand on current services accordingly. World Professional Association of Transgender Health Guidelines – which has recently released a new set of guidelines which SHS is currently working to implement.
“The more we can lead by example and make sure we’re practicing evidence-based care and giving our students the best care possible, the better it is for everyone,” Magna said.
On behalf of the RCSGD, the organization is looking to hire a new Health Equity Advocate, a currently vacant position that has existed for nearly five years and serves as a liaison between the RCSGD and SHS to support transgender, queer and to ensure equal access to health care at UCSB for intersex people. People, according to Buchanan.
Buchanan said, “In the future, the person will serve as the primary first contact for any student who is having trouble accessing healthcare, especially trans students who want to talk about options or have questions.” Want to ask or need help accessing health insurance?”
Buchanan stressed that adequate access to gender-affirming care at UCSB is invaluable, adding that for many college students, this is the stage in their lives where they need resources other than family and home to find out their gender. and services are required.
“It’s a big step away from a home for a lot of queer and trans people that may not be very gender-affirming or supportive,” she said. “I know that coming here was my first chance to get away from what was happening at home and, once I got here, I was finally able to make the transition forward because my parents Dad wasn’t going to help me do that when I wasn’t an adult.”
Magna said that at a university with a broad student demographic, addressing concerns of gender dysphoria through therapy services and cultivating a community of support in any student’s gender journey stands out for the team.
“Without gender-affirming care, there is an increased rate of depression and self-harm,” Magna said. “Dysphoria is real … and we have the support to create a really special community where who you are in your gender is a safe and dignified thing.”
A version of this article on p. 4 of November 17, 2022, print edition of Daily Nexus.