What is gender-affirming care and why is it important?

June 16, 2021

More than 125,000 transgender people live in Texas. For many, access to safe, affordable support and nonjudgmental healthcare treatment can be a struggle. According to a 2015 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, nearly one-third of transgender people report being refused medical care or harassed by medical professionals because they are transgender. But by providing a safe and affirming environment, Resource Center is able to provide gender-affirming services to transgender and gender-diverse community. These services include healthcare at Nelson-Tebedo, behavioral health support, and social activities with GenderBrave.

At Nelson-TebedoGender‑Affirming Outreach & Testing Coordinator Parker Garcia is the main contact for gender-affirming health, scheduling all appointments, answering questions, providing resources, and offering low cost Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) access for people without insurance or for those not wanting to use their insurance for privacy and ease.

Because of COVID-19, Nelson-Tebedo started seeing patients via Telehealth. Parker remarks, “We started doing the virtual visits when COVID-19 started, but a lot of our gender-affirming care patients come from very far away. We have clients coming from as far as Oklahoma or south Texas. A lot of patients say that the virtual appointments have made it so much easier to stay on their regular schedule of visits.”

“We’ve had clients express that they love our program because they feel like we give a higher level of care and attention here. A lot of people have been in our program since it started, and they say how much the gender-affirming program has changed and improved.”
Parker Garcia, Gender‑Affirming Outreach & Testing Coordinator 

Along with a high risk of suicide, transgender people are at higher risk for substance abuse and mental health issues. To continue lifesaving services to transgender individuals during COVID-19, the Center’s Behavioral Health staff transitioned in-office mental health services to include a supportive virtual platform through Telehealth counseling and Zoom support groups. Like Nelson-Tebedo’s virtual appointments, Telehealth allows patients to access services beyond of North Texas. Behavioral Health Program Manager Scott Martin tells us, “Our support group participants are coming from all over Texas since we have added a virtual platform — including Waco, East Texas, Greenville and Abilene.”

“We are able to reach people with our virtual platform and virtual telehealth services that may not otherwise have ability to access our care, due to lack of affirmative providers in their area, lack of transportation and/or financial means.”
Scott Martin, Behavioral Health Program Manager

GenderBrave enables transgender and gender-diverse young adults ages 18-35 to socialize and support one another in a safe space. Activities include social nights, a book club and discussion groups about sexual health. MPowerment Programs Manager Tres Brown tells us, “Many of our regular participants before quarantine have grown so much! GenderBrave has created a safe place for them to build friendships and a community that is supportive and necessary in uncertain times.”

“Two separate friend groups were able to share living space during quarantine when housing was insecure for them, and that connection was there because of GenderBrave.

Tres Brown, MPowement Programs Manager

To learn more about the Center’s gender-affirming services, click HERE.