Big cities such as San Francisco, New York and Chicago offer a lot of health care options for transgender people, and Seattle has become a hub as well. There have been fewer options in the South Puget Sound and Southwest Washington, but that’s changing.
Olympia now has a clinic offering hormone treatment and surgery referrals. It’s called the Lilly Clinic at Providence St. Peter Family Medicine.
Diana Currie is an obstetrician gynecologist at Providence St. Peter and director of the Lilly Clinic. She also teaches doctors in the hospital’s residency program. She said that one time at 3:00 am, she was in the labor and delivery room with resident Chelsea Unruh. As they waited for a mom to give birth, they got to talking.
“I mentioned something about seeing a transgender patient and she’s like, `Wow, you do transgender medicine? Wow, you know about that? That’d be so cool. I want to learn about that,’” Currie said.
They worked together to create the clinic, building on Currie’s expertise that she developed treating transgender patients in Los Angeles. Currie said she saw a need in Olympia and nearby rural areas for the services her clinic now offers.
“We provide all the hormones, we provide all the administrative services, and we provide all the referrals to surgeons, so top surgery, for example, for trans guys, bottom surgery for trans women, but the surgeons are in Portland or Seattle or San Francisco or Arizona, so patients have to travel for the surgery,” Currie said.
And a big focus of the clinic is training medical residents in transgender care.
“Now we’re creating a class of physicians every year that says, `Oh, you’re on hormones? Yeah, I know what we can order, that’s no problem. Let’s keep doing that and take care of you as a full person,’” Unruh said.
All of the medical residents at Providence St. Peter are now required to spend at least half a day in the Lilly Clinic. Currie said it’s important for doctors practicing family medicine to learn about transgender care because trans patients can often feel misunderstood by medical professionals.
Unruh and Currie spoke in Seattle at the Gender Odyssey conference, which brings together transgender people and professionals who work with the transgender community.