Despite this city’s liberal leanings, it’s not easy to be gender-nonconforming in San Francisco. There are medical insurance hoops to jump through for hormone therapy or surgery, stacks of paperwork to file to change one’s name and gender legally; and the emotional stress of passing, finding housing, and coming out to employers.
While there are a number of places people can go for help in all those areas, there hasn’t been one comprehensive spot to address everything — until now. Trans Thrive, a drop-in center for the transgender community, is expanding to form a brand-new Transgender Clinic, set to launch in February, on Friday afternoons to start. The group hails it as a “one-stop shop for someone who is looking for trans services here in the city” — no small feat, as the community’s needs are extensive.
Trans Thrive’s drop-in center has long been a place for gender-nonconforming people to find support. Carsen, a program specialist at the center, spoke to us earlier this year about how peer-led discussions have helped people find the resources they need.
“There’s a lot of sharing of information across generations,” he says. “A lot of the stuff passed around — like doctors recommendations, advice on transitioning, and resources — are not the kind of thing most people feel comfortable sharing at the bus stop or in a coffee shop.”
In the past, this growing range of expertise has been limited to drop-in hours and community groups, but with the impending launch of the Transgender Clinic, that knowledge will now come with a slew of healthcare services.
Nikki “Tita Aida” Calma, associate director of HIV Prevention at API Wellness, a health organization geared toward the LGBTQ community and people of color, says in the past few years the need for a place that offers both emotional and physical support has become more and more evident.
“The demand of medical needs of the trans community is dramatically increasing,” she says. “Adding more options for the community to have access to medical care and choose medical providers will result in a healthier transgender community.”
The clinic will offer everything from primary medical care to mental-health support, all in a trans-aware environment. Birth control, sexual-health services, HIV medications, case management, and even electrolysis will also be accessible.
The lack of safe spaces and resources for the trans community becomes immediately obvious when looking at data. In a 2016 epidemiology report released by the city, it was estimated that nearly 40 percent of all trans women in S.F. are living with HIV. Of those, nearly 70 percent were diagnosed late into their illness. Creating safe spaces for gender-nonconforming people is an important public health asset, and one that is long overdue.
The Transgender Clinic officially opens its doors on the fourth floor of 730 Polk St. on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. From then on, it will be open to the public every Friday from 2-6 p.m.