University of Miami moves forward with clinic to aid transgender people

By : Felicia Roopchand
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MIAMI – The University of Miami recently opened a LGBTQ Center for Wellness, Gender and Sexual Health. This will be one of the first in the southeastern region of the United States. This innovated clinic will provide a number of services to the LGBTQ community including comprehensive gender affirmation procedures.

“Gender affirmation surgery is major surgery that needs to be performed in a hospital setting rather than an ambulatory setting,” said Dr. Christopher Salgado, a gender affirming surgeon, professor of surgery, and editor of Gender Affirmation: Medical and Surgical Perspectives, according to a press release from the hospital.

The gender affirmation procedures include breast augmentation, facial feminization (ffs), gluteal and hip augmentation, orchiectomy, vaginoplasty, labiaplasty and clitoroplasty for women. For men, the procedures include chest construction, also known as “top surgery” or mastectomy, hysterectomy, bilateral oophorectomy, metoidioplasty and both stage one and two phalloplasty.

Along with gender affirmation procedures, the clinic will provide medical and mental health services specifically designed to meet the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning patients; including primary medical care with routine health care physicals and individual psychotherapy around all mental health issues as well as transitioning issues.

The staff includes an array of UM physicians, including renowned UHealth transgender surgeon Christopher Salgado, M.D.

“The clinic is a major milestone for the University of Miami and will help improve access to quality medical care for LGBTQ patients,” said Salgado.

HIV/AIDS treatment is also being provided as well as social workers who are on hand to assist in a patient’s emotional and psychological health. So not only is the hospital focused on the physical health of its patients, but the emotional and mental health as well.

“When you have a center devoted to the needs of LGBTQ people we treat you with both respect and compassion in addition to understanding what you are here for, whereas general health care providers may not understand,” said Lauren Foster, UMH’s Director of LGBTQ Concierge Services. “The clinic was uniquely designed to consider not only the patient’s physical needs but the emotional as well.”

Foster, who is a transgender woman and an LGBTQ leader, said members of the LGBTQ community often shy away from seeking medical care because of the complexities of their needs. However, Foster said that the services provided by the center, particularly gender affirmation, are in higher demand because of greater insurance coverage, which didn’t exist until recently.

“In addition to younger patients getting the surgeries, we’re now seeing older trans men and women who were denied for so long,” Foster said.

In 2016, UMH was recognized as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the country’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization.

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