Demand in CK drives new transgender support program

An innovative transgender health program to be offered through the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance is unique in the Chatham, Windsor and Sarnia regions, says a Chatham psychiatrist.

Dr. Rizwan Rafiq told CK News Today that he does not think there is a similar program to support trans people anywhere else in the province, but it is certain that local initiatives will help many trans people in the region.

Rafiq said Chatham’s LGBTQ support group told him there were about 1,000 transgender people in Chatham-Kent.

Dr. Rafiq recently received a $10,000 grant for his idea from the WeRCKHA Employee Engagement Committee, which Consider and recommend initiatives that will further the achievement of organizational goals, and Contribute to the overall development direction of the hospital.

Once developed, the new program, offered in collaboration with clinics and other health care partners, should be up and running by this summer, the doctor said.

There are support services for transgender youth but not for transgender adults, said Dr. Rafiq, whose clinical practice has seen an increasing influx of transgender adults seeking help because they fear transphobia. Stressed out by symptoms and fears.

“Knowing the history is long and chronic psychological stress due to stigma and expectations of rejection and discrimination,” said Dr. Rafiq. “In my clinical practice, more and more patients come to my clinic, They expressed concern that they would have to go through this cumbersome process to get help, and they were themselves concerned about how they would be treated due to their limited awareness [by society]”

Dr. Rafiq said the stress experienced by the transgender community can lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse, which he says can be detrimental to certain treatments, such as hormone therapy.

Dr. Rafiq said work is underway to train social workers, nurses and other health care providers to make the program transition as smooth as possible and to make the transition from assessment to referral easier and more comfortable for the transgender community.

“The best part is the quick intake. [It’s] Unlike others, they have to be streamlined with the rest of the general population. So that would be a useful point, in order to avoid disappointing that we can serve this population in need,” the doctor said.

The new CKHA Transgender Health Program aims to support transgender and gender diverse individuals aged 16 and over in Chatham-Kent, and will use a “gender-affirming and informed consent approach”. Services provided will include ongoing psychiatric care; addressing physical health needs with clinic nurse practitioners; referrals for surgery; brief treatment referrals; access to RAAM clinics and withdrawal management services; gender journey support groups; and transgender mental health hotlines .

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