I have spent a lot of my time at Rainbow Health Ontario and Sherbourne Health Centre this week. Special thanks go to Devon McFarlane (and Gael) for organising for me to see lots of different parts of an extremely comprehensive LGBTQ health program.
On Monday I had an introductory meeting with Devon and team about the important policy, research and training work they do. Important issues raised were wide-ranging, from mental and emotional health (including shame based trauma), positive trans health but also ensuring that every day health needs of LGBTQ+ populations are met in a culturally sensitive way.
The team talked about changing hearts and minds with the support of allies but also to back this up with evidenced based research. I’ll need to go back to the UK and ask for colleagues support to find similar research in the UK so that we can evidence need for resources to make a change. Jordan talked about the progress made in de-pathologising of gender identity (making trans issues less of a medical problem to be solved) and supporting primary/community care to be skilled up to work in partnership with trans people to meet their needs- this is work I’m interested in taking back to the UK and looking at what happens now in GP surgeries and with local Trans organisations supporting trans people and seeing if we can get some funding to support people to navigate the system. definitely food for thought!
I talked about Independent Advocacy and developing a strong link between individual advocacy and policy and campaigning (systemic advocacy -advocating for changes in the system at a policy and system level rather than the individual.)
Monday evening I joined Lucy Costa at the Empowerment Council at a very lively event discussing whether people with mental health needs should be included in the Medical Assistance and Dying (MAiD) provision.Very passionate speakers and I changed my mind several times during the debate! I was persuaded in the end about dignity in death and the impact suicide has in families and some strong testimonies from survivors, but I do think it’s a very difficult issue needing more debate and it was a great start talking with people with lived experience at the centre and not leaving it to clinicians/politicians. here https://mentalhealthandassisteddeath.wordpress.com/ (Great work Lucy & Chris!)
Tuesday I was invited back to the University of Toronto Re:Searching LGBTQ Health with Lori and her colleagues discussing their progress in their researching. It was heartening to hear hoew passionate they were about their work especially after hearing at RHO thow important up to date research is in terms of effecting change. topics covered were Older People and MH, systematic literature review of bisexual mental health, psychology of sexual minority issues, post natal depression among sexual minority women, midwives attitudes to LGBTQ clients, poverty among LGBTQ people.
The rest of the week I spent back at Sherbourne HC and Rainbow H O. I met Melanie Oda, Director, ARC & Mental Health re: implementing an organisational approach for Trans health, Acute Respite Care and Mental Health. In 2016 they opened four additional beds to support trans, non-binary or gender-diverse, with recovery from transition-related surgery for people who may not have recovery support at home in an enviroment that is LGBTQ positive and clinically competent and this seems like a very exciting development.
I listened in at the weekly mentorship call (supported by RHO) where any professional, who is working with gender-diverse clients across Ontario can connect with other clinicians with experience. The topics discussed range from specific case-based questions to more general social or ethical issues. By sharing their learning, practitioners are also creating a community of practice and establishing valuable professional networks. The call is moderated and gives early support for trans positive professionals and builds capacity to support specialty and competency for all. I really liked this model, it could definitely work well in all-sorts of environments. I know way more than I needed to re the Canadian system for surgery!
I’m playing catch as things have been so hectic! I also went to the U of T pre pride Party, showing and panel of the film “Screaming Queens”, met more lovely people who took me for drinks, was given a rainbow flowers by a stranger and so much more….