During 2021-2022, Trans Care BC continued to support gender-affirming care for Two-Spirit, trans and gender diverse people in British Columbia.
From new online trainings and resources, to community grants, the team continued to work towards bringing gender-affirming care closer to home for people living in B.C. The past year included a number of accomplishments and highlights including:
- In May 2021, comprehensive updates were made to our website to be more inclusive of diverse gender identities, including trans Indigenous and Two-Spirit, non-binary, gender fluid and agender people. Historically, we have used binary language on our website to talk about gender-affirming health care options. By adopting more gender inclusive language, we acted on community feedback asking for our materials to be reflective of the diverse participants in care and in our communities.
"Voice is a big part of my transition journey. I can communicate way more now with voice because of my inflections and my better understanding of emotional content." – Lindsey McEwan
- In November 2021, the Trans Care BC voice feminization program, Changing Keys, was featured both internally at PHSA and publicly. Established in 2004, this one-month intensive speech and voice training program continues to be the only publicly-funded program of its kind in B.C. that supports trans people with changing their speech. In 2021-2022, 56 clients completed the program through virtual one-on-one sessions and virtual group sessions.
“Now, gender diverse individuals will have easier access to ID documents that match their lived identities, which, for many, will have a profound impact.”
– Lorraine Grieves, provincial program director, Trans Care BC
- In January 2022, Trans Care BC partnered with the B.C. provincial government to announce updates to changing gender designations on provincial identification documents – an important step towards respecting rights of Two-Spirit, trans and gender diverse people. Following this announcement, Two-Spirit, transgender and gender diverse people 12 years and older in British Columbia can now change their gender designations on the BC Services Card, B.C. driver's licence, BCID card and B.C. birth certificate through a self-declaration process thus removing the historical need for confirmation by a physician or psychologist.
- On March 31, 2022, our new Indigenous Gender Diversity course was soft- launched to coincide with the annual International Trans Day of Visibility. This foundational course, developed in collaboration with gender diverse Indigenous and Two-Spirit community members, is for people working in health and social service settings to increase their awareness, knowledge, and skills when improving service access for gender diverse Indigenous and Two-Spirit people across British Columbia. The course will be publicly launched during the summer of 2022, once further feedback and finishing touches are added.
“I believe this toolkit is a very needed resource. There’s a huge gap in services for the trans community – and the available resources for harm reductions sites to serve that community properly – in making sure the proper supplies are distributed.”
- Paul Choisil, member, Professionals for Ethical Engagement of Peers
- In late-March 2022, Trans Care BC and BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) worked in partnership to share a first-of-its-kind Hormone Injection Supplies Toolkit resource. This online toolkit, designed for programs that offer harm reduction supplies, provides peer co-developed resources to create inclusive harm reduction services and to improve access to relevant hormone injection supplies for Two-Spirit, trans, and gender diverse community members.
Health navigators had their busiest year ever with over 4,800 interactions with community members, family members, loved ones and service providers to help people find care as close to home as possible. This is a 37% increase from 3,500 interactions in 2020-2021.
- Trans Care BC developed the Self Advocacy in Health Care: Referrals Tip Sheet to support people to better understand how the referral process works and steps to take to self-advocate throughout the process.
- Trans Care BC provided 35 community grants to peer support and mental health & well-being projects for Two-Spirit, trans, and gender diverse people, and their parents/caregivers, families, and partners.
- Trans Care BC hosted 5 Provincial Network Calls for the network of funded projects to connect and share support, resources, and knowledge.
- In partnership with BCCDC, Toward the Heart, and Professionals for Ethical Engagement of Peers (PEEP), Trans Care BC developed and launched The Hormone Injection Supplies Toolkit – a resource for harm reduction sites and programs interested in offering hormone injection supplies, and providing inclusive harm reduction services for Two-Spirit, trans, and gender diverse community members.
- The Peer and Community team conducted a review and update of the online Peer Support Directory, resulting in a refreshed directory that hosts over 104 listings for peer support initiatives across BC.
- Trans Care BC’s Community Advisory Group hosted 6 meetings and participated in a number of consultations during 2021-2022, including a meet and greet with PHSA’s CEO David Byres and various consultations with PHSA’s Ethics Services and Communications.
“As a health-care provider, I often feel uneducated in how to speak to gender-diverse individuals. After [completing this course], I feel a little more educated on how to proceed in the future.” - Course registrant
“It is important to know about people’s preferences, identities and pronouns. It is who they are, and making sure to respect that is vital.”
- Course registrant
- In January 2022, Trans Care BC was thrilled to announce that more than 15,000 registrants had completed the Introduction to Gender Diversity course, increasing from 5,000 reported in our 2020-2021 report.
- As of April 2022, continuing awareness efforts by the TCBC team have accelerated this number to more than 20,000 registrant completions. The course was originally offered only to people living in B.C., but since its 2019 launch, non-profit organizations, public agencies and companies across Canada have made the course a part of their training. Adoptees of the module include the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland health authorities, LifeLabs and more.
- We piloted a new clinical support initiative, Journal Club - a monthly virtual meeting dedicated to reviewing academic literature with the goal of improving care through integration of high-quality research into evidence-based practice.
- We continued to offer the weekly Clinical Mentorship Call with a number of new mentors added to the rotation from a wide range of disciplines and practice settings.
- Trans Care BC launched a Supporting Gender Creative Children and their Families online module designed for people who work with children and their families in various capacities. This includes, but is not limited to, day care, school, community centres, social work, health care, and mental health care.
While working with community members to navigate care, Trans Care BC is also collaborating to grow health system capacity.
Gender Surgery Program B.C. launched in 2019, and has scaled up to offer the full spectrum of genital reconstruction surgeries including vaginoplasty, vulvoplasty, phalloplasty, and metoidioplasty procedures. We are working with health system partners to continue to expand provincial access to lower gender-affirming surgeries.
- Upper body surgeries were stable from last year: 647 breast and chest surgeries were performed in 2021-2022, with over 90% of surgeries completed within 26 weeks of booking form submission (the benchmark wait time).
- We continue work to improve access to medically necessary pre-surgical hair removal, which is funded following a recommendation from the surgery program.
- We continue to provide tools to help clients plan for surgery, post-operative care, and recovery, with pandemic safety in mind.
Thank you for your support in helping Trans Care BC work towards our vision – a British Columbia where people of all genders are able to access gender-affirming health care, and live, work and thrive in their communities. We look forward to continuing to work to improve access to gender-affirming care across B.C.
COVID-19's toll is far-reaching, as are the delays in care; these continue to be at the forefront as our team and network of providers do all that we can by virtual health means and work on reopening care pathways.
At Trans Care BC, we’re keenly aware of the need to continue addressing ongoing challenges while we adjust to living through a global pandemic, to support all aspects of trans health care – remaining accessible wherever possible.