Photo courtesy of WE Health Clinic
The WE Health Clinic supports transgender health with a variety of services and gender-affirming hormone care.
In the 1970s, the Women’s Health Center opened in the The Building For Women in Duluth, where it served as a nonprofit abortion provider, offering contraception and STI treatment. In 2017, the center’s board formed a strategic plan to add services, including transgender hormone care. This plan included renaming the clinic to WE Health Clinic in 2019 to be more inclusive of its patients.
One doctor of WE Health Clinic, Dr. Judith Johnson, has more than two decades of experience working with hormone therapy and general OBGYN care.
“I have provided feminizing hormone therapy for about twenty years, previously in my general OBGYN practice here in Duluth,” Dr. Johnson says. “I joined WE Health Clinic in January 2018, and I had been on the board for more than fifteen years and was part of strategic planning. We rolled out our program, which includes both masculinizing and feminizing therapy, in about June 2018.”
Other than a background in gender-affirming hormone care, privacy is an important requirement of any health provider caring for transgender and non-binary patients. Dr. Johnson says WE Health Clinic practices the usual privacy protections of medical clinics, and they ask the gender, name, and pronouns of all patients on their intake forms. “We try to make our clinic space welcoming to all genders,” she adds.
If a patient is interested in getting transgender and non-binary health services or gender-affirming hormone care, they can first schedule an appointment at WE Health Clinic with Dr. Johnson.
“We use an informed consent model for hormone therapy, which aligns with almost all other medical care. If a patient has a history consistent with gender dysphoria and is able to understand the risks, benefits, intended and unintended effects of hormone therapy, I consider them to be a good candidate for starting,” Dr. Johnson explains.
She says she usually schedules two visits with her patients, the first for history-taking, discussion, drawing blood for lab work, and reviewing an informed consent document. The second visit is a brief exam, which includes examining the heart, lungs, and blood pressure of the patient. They will also review the results from the lab and receive a prescription for hormone therapy if the patient and Dr. Johnson decide to go forward with the treatment.
The transgender and non-binary health, sexual health, and reproductive health services that WE Health Clinic provides are: gender-affirming gynecological care, including abortion, cervical cancer screening, and pelvic exams; confidential STI education, screening, and treatment; birth control, including methods that are compatible with transition-related hormones; chest/breast exams; health information for nutrition, smoking cessation, and weight loss; cholesterol and blood pressure checks; urinary tract infection and vaginal infection testing and treatment; pregnancy testing and all-options pregnancy counseling; free condoms and dental dams; referrals to specialists as needed; and limited primary care services.
The clinic’s gender-affirming hormone care services include feminizing and masculinizing hormone therapy and monitoring; information and referrals for gender-affirming surgeries, speech therapy, and cosmetic procedures; and post-surgical follow-up appointments.
WE Health Clinic also offers in-clinic and medication abortions, birth control, emergency contraception, pregnancy options education, STI care, PrEP, and breast and cervical cancer screening. For members of the public interested in supporting the clinic’s mission, Dr. Johnson suggests a number of ways to get involved.
“Know we are here! Donate. Volunteer. Transgender hormone care and abortion care tend to be marginalized by mainstream medicine as well as the public,” she says. “We want everyone to know that it is health care to which people should have access.”
For more information about WE Health Clinic, visit wehealthclinic.org.
WE Health Clinic
32 E. 1st St.