“Affirmative Action” – Minnesota Community Care’s Hormone and Gender-Affirming Care Clinic Makes A Difference
Hollow, hateful laws proposed by hollow, hateful lawmakers. Discrimination disguised as corporate policy. On-stage jokes delivered by willfully ignorant comedians. These days, it seems like you can’t swing a light blue, pink, and white flag around your head without brushing another instance of codified bigotry aimed at transgender folk; they who put the T in LGBTQ, they whose outer biology does not perfectly overlap with their inner gender identity.
If this discrimination is a society-wide epidemic that causes untold psychic and physical damage, then it’s a plague that comes with a specialized cure. “Gender-affirming care is medical and mental health care that supports a person in living in and expressing the gender that they feel most comfortable in,” explains Morgan Weinert, Nurse Practitioner for Minnesota Community Care, a medical facility that, according to its website, “provides full-service health care for all people, regardless of income or insurance status.”
Weinert elaborates on Minnesota Community Care’s newest intervention: “The Gender Care Clinic is another service we are offering to the community to ensure access to this important and affirming care. Both Doctor Kelsey Leonardsmith and I are members of the community with experience in this work, and we are thrilled to continue to increase access to gender affirming care in the Twin Cities.”
Access to gender affirming care can improve Transgender Life generally, sure, but it can also do much more—it can serve as the christening for a voyage of singular discovery. “I emphasize to patients that the journey is not linear,” says Weinert, “and does not look the same for everyone.”
Gender is a highly-individualized aspect of character…which forces gender-affirming care to be just as individualized. Notes Weinert, “Some examples of gender-affirming care include hormone therapy, surgical interventions, and cosmetic procedures to allow people to present their gender in a way that feels best to them.”
The care sometimes begins as a kind of damage control. “With harm reduction in gender-affirming care, we recognize that when people don’t have access to this care, they’re more likely to engage in riskier ways of gender affirmation,” Weinert says.
Examples of this harm are, alas, all too easy to find. “People who are unable to access a hormone prescription due to lack of insurance may ‘share’ hormones with a friend or buy it off the street without a prescription,” Weinert reveals. “This puts people at risk since they may not be getting high quality safe hormones from a pharmacy, and because they’re not accessing the important laboratory monitoring that comes with getting care from a clinic.”
Despite popular expectation, gender-affirming care doesn’t necessarily translate into a biological engagement. “Some trans people don’t want any medical interventions,” Weinert observes. “They are eager for mental health support that is culturally appropriate and allows them to feel more confident living in their chosen gender identity.”
That confident living requires a certain psychic space in which to flourish. “Gender affirming mental health care allows people to have a safe space to discuss their feelings and experiences, and gain insight and tools on coping, coming out, and more,” Weinert says.
Of course, biology often is a component in gender affirmation. Morgan Weinert catalogs, “Patients looking to establish hormone care are people who are interested in taking hormones–testosterone or estrogen–in order to change their secondary sex characteristics to align more with their gender identity.”
During these instances, something akin to fine tuning might take place. “Hormone care is individualized,” says Weinert. “Some patients opt for low doses of hormones for a more subtle and slow onset of physical changes while others may be eager to go all in.”
The journey of other patients is more vigorous still. “I have some patients who are excited about starting hormone therapy to look more feminine or masculine,” Weinert reveals, “but some of my patients aren’t interested in hormones and only want gender affirming surgery or cosmetic procedures.”
In these specific instances, reinvention can go even deeper. As Weinert supposes, “A person who was assigned a male gender at birth—i.e., the doctor said “it’s a boy!” –who is interested in a more feminine gender presentation might choose to take estrogen to soften their skin, change their fat distribution to be on their hips and butt instead of belly, and develop breasts.”
Steps can alternatively be made to nudge personhood from yang vibes to yin. Says Weinert, “A person who is assigned a female gender at birth but who wants to live in a more masculine gender presentation might choose to start testosterone therapy to deepen their voice, grow facial hair, and increase muscle mass.”
If gender-affirming care is a journey, it’s a journey where the journeyer is also the destination. “Gender affirmation looks different for every person and is not unique to trans people” Weinert declares. “Everyone has the right to express their gender in a way that feels best to them!”
Access to gender affirming care can improve Transgender Life generally, sure, but it can also do much more—as Nurse Practitioner Morgan Weinert puts it, “Access to gender affirming care is lifesaving!”
Prospective patients should ask to be scheduled with Doctor Leonardsmith or Morgan Weinert at the Gender Care Clinic.