We are pleased to share progress to-date in the creation of a provincial transgender health services program for BC.
In October 2014, the Minister of Health announced the Ministry of Health, Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) were working together to offer expanded and sustainable health services to support transgender communities across the province. This year, PHSA assumed responsibility for provincial coordination of transgender health services, and we began consultation with people from transgender communities, clinical experts, and other stakeholders about how best to create and expand services.
An expert steering committee reviewed current services and supports and provided input into feasible short- and long-term strategies to meet the health needs of this population. The committee, which included trans individuals and family representatives, developed a provincial network model for person and family-centred health care services for transgender British Columbians.
Key focus areas of this provincial model include the development of:
- Community/peer support: Peer support services that will be delivered consistently throughout the province by trained facilitators. Organizations that provide peer support services will be members of a provincial knowledge exchange network and supported through a hub-and-spoke infrastructure model.
- Primary care access & consultation: Increasing provincial access to experienced and culturally aware health care providers that are motivated to work with trans individuals; increasing General Practitioner (GP) comfort, knowledge, and ability to provide hormone therapy and transition support (linked with health care provider education).
- Health care provider education: Increasing the ability and skills of health care providers and support staff in providing care to transgender individuals by educating providers on World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care, and trans inclusive policy and practice.
- Gender-affirming surgery: Providing gender-affirming surgical options closer to home and increasing access to publicly funded readiness assessments, upper surgeries, and information about procedures, process, and wait times.
This model is also outlined in an animated video about the vision for Trans Care BC Trans Care BC Vision
We are thrilled to welcome a dedicated provincial leader, Lorraine Grieves (Provincial Director, Trans Care BC), to lead the implementation of this new model. Lorraine has a wealth of knowledge and experience in working with transgender communities from leading the Transgender Health Information Program, Prism, CALL Out! and other related programs at Vancouver Coastal Health. Once Lorraine starts in mid-October, other program roles and resources will be added to build and support the roll out of a provincial program. All current services in BC will continue while the provincial program is put in place.
This foundational work to-date is a credit to the collaborative efforts and partnership between transgender communities, Health Authorities, non-governmental organizations, and the Ministry of Health. We are committed to continuing partnership and collaboration as we move forward together. As a first in Canada, this work to support transgender health on a provincial scale is being shared at the Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health (CPATH) conference in October.
We will continue to keep you informed as the program develops.
The Trans*Health Steering Committee was launched in December 2014 with clinical experts and community representatives. The goal is to develop recommendations for May 2015 that will inform future province-wide services and networks for transgender/trans* health care for British Columbians throughout their lives.
Initial recommendations will address the most urgent, short-term concerns and will include an ongoing process to develop medium and longer term system improvements. These improvements and recommendations will be presented to the Ministry of Health via a business case.
In order to gain a broad, comprehensive perspective, working groups will be created to focus on a number of areas including community supports, primary care access and consultation and health-care provider education, and model of care for gender reassignment surgery. The committee will also be seeking broader input from health authorities and community members.
Critical to the development of recommendations and ultimately, a comprehensive provincial network of services, is input from partners and stakeholders. The committee is dedicated to working with all of its partners to create the best possible recommendations to better serve this patient population.
Our partners include:
- Fraser Health Authority
- Interior Health Authority
- Island Health
- Northern Health
- Vancouver Coastal Health
- Ministry of Health
- First Nations Health Authority (pending)