July 1, 2020

Health Care, Transgender Health Care

As June 2020 fades in the rearview mirror, we at Maine Family Planning are reflecting on the wins and losses of this unusual Pride Month, as well as the ongoing privilege of providing gender-affirming care in communities throughout our large and rural state, day-in and day-out.

In the midst of a pandemic and our societal reckoning with racism and discrimination, there were bright spots, such as the way our communities are coming together to support each other through tough times and the recent Supreme Court ruling confirming that federal law protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. 

But we have far to go. In mid-June, the Trump-Pence administration finalized a rule stripping health care protections for transgender people and those who have had abortions. The unlawful rule is being challenged in court; we will keep you posted on its status.

Through it all, we mourned lives lost to transphobia and racism, including Tony McDade, Riah Milton, and Dominique Rem’mie Fells. We learned, listened, and declared: Black Lives Matter and Black Trans Lives Matter.

The Care You Need

At MFP, we proudly offer gender-affirming, non-judgmental, expert care to LGBTQ+ folks, at 18 local clinics around Maine and online five days a week. In addition, we offer gender-affirming HRT for medical transitioning through our Open Door Transgender Health Program at our Augusta, Belfast, Fort Kent, Lewiston, Norway, Presque Isle, and Waterville clinics, and through telehealth. These services are available to anyone 18 and older in the state of Maine.

MFP’s Open Door transcare providers are fluent in your sexual and reproductive health needs and standards of care. Beyond hormone therapy, we can provide birth control, STI care, abortion care, yearly wellness visits, preventive care, safer sex supplies, and more for patients of any gender.

In order to make it easier for people to get the care they need from home, Maine Family Planning has expanded our telehealth offerings. In a telehealth appointment – we call them Virtual Visits – you’ll use a smartphone, tablet, or computer with Internet and a camera to log into our secure online waiting room. MFP staff will “check you in” and help you get connected. Once your appointment begins, you’ll see your medical provider on the screen, and they can discuss medical concerns, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options (including prescription medicine), and more. It’s all secure and confidential – and the technology is easy to use! Not only have we expanded our Open Door transgender health services online, but we also can point you toward additional virtual resources to help you stay healthy during this time.

Click here for Virtual Visits or call (207) 922-3222.

When Bodies Align with Souls

Whether they’re providing care in-person or virtually, MFP’s transcare providers say they’re honored to serve their patients.

“Being the only provider in the County to offer hormones to my trans patients has been huge,” says MFP nurse practitioner Christina, who works at our Fort Kent and Presque Isle clinics. “My patients no longer have to travel long distances and wait long periods of time to see a provider. Additionally, they don’t have to pay to see a specialist (such as an endocrinologist). So we’ve made their care far more accessible and affordable. Not only does this open doors to my patients, but I hope it also opens doors to awareness of their needs in the County. Trans patients have been ignored for too long in this area.”

“The patients who come to me for gender-affirming, non-binary, or transgender care services know what they want,” adds Belfast nurse practitioner Julie. “But many patients are also used to having to convince their provider of who they are and the care they need. It’s heartbreaking. It means so much that I can say, we believe you, we believe you need this. These are patients who have had a hard time, and it’s a real privilege for me to provide them with the care they need.”

“I love my job at MFP and I have to say that the highlight is working with transgender folk to help them transition,” says NP Sara, who serves patients in Lewiston and Norway. “I really feel that I get nearly as much joy watching the effects of their transition as my patients do. It’s so exciting to hear how they feel so much more comfortable and happy as their bodies start to align with their souls. I’m so proud to be part of such an excellent and caring team of transcare providers. Trans Mainers, we are here for you!”