U of U hosts summit on health care for Utah’s transgender community

Posted at 5:17 PM, Nov 08, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-08 19:17:42-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A transgender healthcare conference was held at the University of Utah School of Medicine Saturday, and the event was organized by a local student who is transgender.

The summit was aimed at health care providers, mental health professionals and students interested in improving their knowledge about Utah’s transgender community.

“In the past, there was a lot of social fear and phobia about this community, so much so that I don’t think mental health or medical profession was even willing to acknowledge these people existed and needed our assistance,” said Jerry Buie, who is a licensed clinical social worker with Pride Counseling.

Local mental health professionals, surgeons, professors, and students as well as general community members came out to the University of Utah Saturday to spend some time networking, learning, and discussing healthcare for the transgender community.

“I realized there was a dire need in the LGBTQ community, and there was even more of a need within the transgender community to address the issue of finding competent medical providers and finding accessible health services,” said Andy Rivera, who is the event organizer and founder.

Andy Rivera felt the need to start the transgender health care summit after noticing a need for it. As a Transgender student on campus pursuing a degree in health education a few things came to his attention.

“A lot of the providers were kind of working independently, and there was no real connection within the community itself, everybody was working on their own... essentially different standards of care, but as more providers became out about providing services to the transgender community they decided, 'hey let’s build a network,'” Rivera said.

Saturday’s summit consisted of several lectures from an assortment of speakers living or working within the transgender community. Organizers said the event underscores the university’s commitment to pursuing avenues to make all patients feel welcome, regardless of identity or sexual orientation.

“The growth that has happened with the provider’s summit is a direct result of the education of the Pride Center and TEA [Transgender Education advocates] of Utah and Equality Utah,” said Connie Anast-Inman, who is with TEA of Utah. “There is a real need for trans health care in Utah and trans affirming providers and this is a great means for that to occur.”

November is transgender awareness month, and the healthcare provider’s summit is considered the kick-off. Next week is the Utah Pride Center’s annual gender revolution, which is a transgender community conference in Salt Lake City.