How a tiny city in New York became a beacon for transgender healthcare (excerpted from The Guardian) featuring Letting Go author Carolyn Wolf-Gould
Instead of an interview with Letting Go author Dr. Carolyn Wolf-Gould, below is an excerpt of an article from The Guardian about her transgender health center.
You can read Carolyn Wolf-Gould's essay - "A Prayer for Lost Things" - in _Letting Go: An Anthology of Attempts
How a tiny city in New York became a beacon for transgender healthcare
Dr Carolyn Wolf-Gould has built a center that treats more than 300 transgender people from across the north-east – and many travel 50 or 100 miles to see her
Four times a year, Jill Williams, 62, climbs into the cab of her 2010 Toyota pickup and heads from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to a doctor’s office two-and-a-half hours away.
Williams, who is transgender, has grown used to the drive. With the majority of medical professionals knowing little about how to provide care to transgender people, countless trans individuals across the country face incredibly restricted health care options. Williams is one of thousands of people willing to go far – usually to a major city – to see a doctor who has experience in transgender health care, or at least is not openly hostile.
But Williams isn’t headed for a city. And in a stark illustration of how sparse her options are even here, in one of the most populous parts of the north-east, her route bypasses major metropolitan areas for an unlikely haven at the foot of the Catskill mountains: Oneonta, New York.This is where Dr Carolyn Wolf-Gould, a longtime family doctor, has spent years tailoring her practice for trans patients. From a few individuals in the late 2000s, she has built a center that treats more than 300 transgender people from across the region.
Many come from the hamlets that dot the surrounding foothills. But the majority of Wolf-Gould’s patients trek from Albany, Schenectady and their suburbs – a thriving region that is nevertheless hurting for health care options and is not short on bigotry.
“These patients are so marginalized, and they deal with so much discrimination and abuse, that we have people coming from four, five, six hours away,” Wolf-Gould said in a recent interview. Her office, in a small hospital off a two-lane highway, offers them hormone therapy, counseling, a point of coordination with their other doctors and referrals for patients wishing to transition with surgery. But she also treats dozens of trans people who aren’t medically transitioning and don’t require her specialties so much as sensitivity. Some patients, she said, will drive a hundred miles to avoid getting another mammogram in their hometown.
There is Kate Terrell, 51, who went to the emergency room for lung failure only to undergo an unrelated pelvic exam by a nurse. “I had one woman hand me a breast exam card and say, ‘Here, this should make you feel more feminine,’” Terrell said. Despite living close to five major hospital centers and dozens of endocrinologists, who specialize in hormone therapy, Terrell drives more than an hour for Wolf-Gould to manage her estrogen levels.
Rhonda Calhoun became a patient after her doctor of two decades said she would need to “see God” before he would treat her again. She drives two hours both ways for Wolf-Gould to perform her annual checkups.
In fact, Terrell says she hardly knows a single trans person in Albany, out of hundreds, who doesn’t drive the 80-some miles to see Wolf-Gould.
“You do it when you don’t have any other choice,” Calhoun said. “You’d think being around the Syracuse area there would be more doctors that would see a need. But as soon as you mention ‘transgender’, they say they don’t have anyone.”
Their experiences are far from unusual. In one survey after another, trans people report hostility and ignorance in doctors’ offices at disturbing rates.
Read the full article at The Guardian
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