Harvard Sex Week hosted a lecture on Friday in Emerson Hall on navigating healthcare as a transgender person.
The event, named “Accessing Healthcare with the Trans+ Community,” featured guest speaker Robbin Russel, who shared resources for gender-affirming healthcare and her personal experiences as a transgender person.
Russel’s talk focused on self-advocacy and medical resources for transgender people while acknowledging the complicated reality of the American healthcare system.
Russel recommended OutCare Health and TransCare Site as online resources to find healthcare that is both gender-affirming and supportive of LGBTQ individuals, adding that social media platforms such as Reddit and Discord could also be helpful.
Russel said Fenway Health — a Boston health center providing both preventative and curative care for LGBTQ patients — has been “invaluable” and “second to none.” For hormone therapies, Russel pointed to Planned Parenthood as a provider of hormone therapies for transgender patients.
In addition to healthcare suggestions, her lecture focused on self-advocacy for transgender people in the face of a “nightmarishly complex” healthcare system that she said poses additional barriers for transgender people.
“Being able to be an advocate for yourself is very important as a trans person navigating healthcare,” Russel said.
While Russel acknowledged self-advocacy can sometimes be uncomfortable, she said she believes it is often worthwhile. She encouraged attendees to "never feel ashamed" for needing to correct someone for misgendering.
“You deserve to be treated at least with the right pronouns and name,” Russel said.
“Taking back power in that situation is really hard, too," she added. "The best way to do it is usually the simplest way."
Russel added that although self-advocacy is essential, comfort is the “most important thing."
“Do whatever is going to make you the most comfortable, and if the people around you are causing issues, remove yourself from the situation,” Russel said.
Though Russel recognized the difficulties that LGBTQ and specifically transgender people face in the American healthcare system, she said she believes there has been progress.
“Right now we have more out trans seniors than ever before, which is great,” she said. “This also means there is more healthcare available than ever before.”
Russel concluded by reminding attendees to advocate for respect from those around them, including in the medical system.
“Remember you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and people deserve to know that their healthcare providers will do the same thing,” Russel said.
—Staff Writer Darley A. C. Boit can be reached at email@example.com.