In Episode 19 of the Healthy Matters Podcast, we talk about transgender health issues with my colleague at Hennepin Healthcare, Dr. Haylee Veazey – who in my opinion is a leading physician, not only in clinical care, but in education about transgender health and gender health in general.
During her second year of training, while the rest of us are usually trying to figure out how to write an order for Tylenol, Dr. Veazey was developing a whole new clinic model for those seeking care for gender and sexual health. Overachiever?
“We started our first day of clinic in 2016 and started with one single patient showing up,” she said. “And since then, throughout the rest of my time as a resident, and now as a faculty for the last few years, we’ve got a full panel of patients and we’re booking months out.”
Dr. Veazey sees patients with a variety of care needs in the Adult Gender & Sexual Health Clinic.
“We have patients that come to us for just regular primary care – for blood pressure management or to have their blood sugar and lipids checked every year, but we specialize in gender-affirming care. So we do gender-affirming, hormone replacement therapy to help people align their physical body with their gender identity. We do referrals for gender-affirming therapy for mental health and surgeries. We help people with pre-exposure prophylaxis to try to prevent HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) testing and treatment. We also help with some limited family planning as well. It’s a great place where people who are members of the LGBTQ community can come and get their normal primary care but also take care of gender and sexual health.”
Throughout this podcast, Dr. Veazey used some terms that I’ve become familiar with, but only because I hang around with people who use them a lot. I asked her to explain, “what is ‘gender’ and how is it different than the sex you were assigned at birth – and are they different?”
“They’re very different,” Dr. Veazey explained. “It’s kind of like talking about a house. A house has plumbing and electricity and they’re separate systems, but they’re still part of the same house. And when we talk about sex assigned at birth, that’s the physical structures that we can observe with our eyes that tell us that a person has more masculine or feminine physical structures to their body. And there’s a huge range of that. That’s one part of someone’s identity and personhood. That’s an example of extreme diversity in the human species – and it’s like everything in nature. It’s not binary. There’s not just black and white, X and Y. It’s a huge range from the most maleness that a body can have to the most femaleness that a body can have. And it’s completely separate from someone’s gender identity.”
We sort out many questions you may have about what it means to be transgender, providing gender-affirming healthcare, and addressing health disparities related to people whose inner concept of themselves does not align with the gender assigned to them at birth in Episode 19 of the Healthy Matters Podcast.