Have you ever made a doctor’s appointment, only to be turned away and tell yourself that your doctor couldn’t help you?
This is a problem that transgender people face on a regular basis in the health care system.
“A lot of times a trans person will walk into a doctor’s office and at the end of the conversation the doctor will thank the trans person for educating them,” Robyn Kanner, 28-year-old graphic designer and transgender woman from Boston. , TI said.
One in four transgender people delay seeking medical treatment because of discrimination, according to a study by the National LGBTQ Task Force.
Kanner, along with three of his friends, founded the MyTransHealth website to combat these issues. All four of the website founders identify as transgender, so MyTransHealth takes what they call a “for trans, by trans” approach to health care.
The site, which will officially launch in New York and Miami this fall, is designed to connect people with professionals ready to help transgender patients, looking at each physician and healthcare provider individually to ensure quality of care. care.
Since launching a Kickstarter campaign on Monday, MyTransHealth has already raised $ 22,087, more than its goal of $ 20,000. There are still 27 days for people to donate. It seems that Kanner and his colleagues are not the only ones affected by this problem.
“The list of options available to the trans community is much smaller,” Kanner says of healthcare professionals trained to appropriately treat trans patients. “And it’s often without malicious intent – more often than not, it’s without intent at all.”
It’s not just about finding a doctor to perform a routine physical exam or test for strep throat. Transgender patients have a unique set of medical needs, such as the hormone replacement therapy and mental health supports often required for a successful gender transition.
While traditional health resources like ZocDoc or WebMD are open to anyone, the sites leave a lot to be desired by transgender patients.
“We are constantly looking for ways to personalize the ZocDoc experience for our patients,” a ZocDoc representative told TI. “The ‘Professional statement ” The ZocDoc profiles section gives doctors the opportunity to express not only their qualifications and distinctions, but also their philosophies and specialties of care. “
While many doctor profiles on ZocDoc explain that they are suitable for trans, there is currently no way to specifically search only for these professionals and filter out those who are not. “A site like WebMD or ZocDoc might help, but it won’t exactly target you,” Kanner explained. “It’s about finding professionals that the trans community can trust. “
To do this, Kanner and her colleagues individually assess each professional the site will recommend, a process they say sets MyTransHealth apart from other transgender healthcare platforms, like Rad Remedy.
“We screen the doctors themselves before putting them on our website,” Kanner explained. “We don’t just cite the names of the doctors we google. We talk to them personally and train them.
The website was inspired by the founders’ negative experiences in doctor’s offices, ranging from emotionally trying to physically dangerous.
“I had a doctor who didn’t understand that one of the reasons I had kidney stones was because I was taking estrogen,” Kanner told TI. “Kade Clark [a MyTransHealth cofounder] had a doctor who prescribed her the wrong drugs for six months based on her hormones.
And it wasn’t just the founders of MyTransHealth who experienced these kinds of issues.
“We have received hundreds of emails from people around the world who have been generous enough to share their experiences with us so that we can design MyTransHealth with their needs in mind,” Kanner explained.
The number one complaint?
“Access to hormones,” Kanner told TI. “Without a doubt.”
This is a problem Kanner knows all too well. When she started seeking hormonal treatments for herself in 2006, Kanner says she was turned down by three different therapists. They all told him that they just didn’t have the skills to help him make the transition.
It took a year before she found someone who could help her.
“There can be a lot of control within the system,” Kanner said. “MyTransHealth is manipulating this system.”
“Gatekeeping,” Kanner explained, is the process of controlling the access and rights of a community or individual. For transgender people, being tested can mean the difference between receiving treatments, like hormone replacement therapy, or leaving empty-handed.
“With MyTransHealth, we make sure that when a trans person walks in [to a doctor’s office], the person they’re going to see won’t be weird to them, touch their body strangely, or ask inappropriate questions, ”Kanner said.
It is not a perfect system. Kanner recognizes that accessibility is going to be a major hurdle for the site.
“We have had a lot of people contacting us who may not have citizen status or access to health care where they live, so we are always trying to find ways for those people to benefit as well. of MyTransHealth, ”she noted. .
For Kanner, providing the transgender community with access to quality health care cannot happen quickly enough.
“Last week on an appointment with my new primary care doctor. She asked me why I take Estradiol [a form of the hormone estrogen] and when I replied that it was because I’m a trans woman, she asked me if that would make me grow breasts, ”Kanner said. “All the while I was thinking, ‘How could you not know that hormone replacement therapy would help me grow breasts?’ “