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Diversity and Inclusion series focuses on reproductive rights for queer and gender nonconforming people of color

By Janjay Innis

UMass Chan Medical School Communications

November 01, 2022

Cailin Duram, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, led the monthly Diversity and Inclusion series, Centering the Margins, on reproductive rights and justice for queer and gender nonconforming people of color on Wednesday, Oct. 26. 

Duram talked about the Planned Parenthood gender affirming hormone therapy program in Central Massachusetts.

Cailin Duram

“One of the benefits of having a service like this in place at Planned Parenthood is that we’re not working within the primary care practice model; there’s no waiting lists to get on with primary care providers. So that means somebody can make a cold call or reach out on the portal and say they want to start hormones, and you’ll get an appointment in about two weeks,” Duram said.

Duram said the two-week wait is shorter than some other ways people are accessing care in Central Massachusetts and statewide. 

“It’s been a real learning opportunity, as we rolled this program out, to really understand that we’re doing more than giving people hormones, we’re doing care for folks that may not have access to care in other places. We are really providing trans and nonbinary competent health care in a more robust way,” Duram said.

Panelist Tara Kumaraswami, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics & gynecology and director of the obstetrics & gynecology residency program, shared personal stories of a time when she, as a medical student and resident at UMass Chan, found it difficult to assist patients in navigating the system especially when they identified as a sexual or gender minority. She has since developed a special interest in providing care for this niche of patients. 

Duram shared some victories that have centered the experiences of trans and gender nonconforming people of color through Planned Parenthood’s work. For example, an advisory board conducted research on the barriers that prevented this group from accessing gender affirming hormone therapy program services and found some were lacking supplies to self-administer hormone therapy. Planned Parenthood now provides needles, syringes, alcohol swabs, bandages and a sharps container for community members in need.

Other victories have included offering staff training on trans and nonbinary issues such as deadnaming, which means using a person’s birth name that they no longer use, and providing patient experience surveys that have helped positively change interactions with patients.

Dr. Kumaraswami said practices such as these positively influence holistic care for patients. 

“Holistic care starts at the very beginning. When patients are scheduling, how are they received? And as we are taking their history, we focus on information that is relevant to patients so that it’s not a voyeuristic look into someone’s life,” she said.

Even with such care, the reality that meeting some needs is a process was emphasized as well.

“If we’re looking at intersectionality, we know that there are patients that have been historically oppressed, that there’s going to be some distrust of the medical field. And so, ensuring that we can build up trust and letting them know that we’re here for any questions or future outreach establishes a good relationship over time,” Kumaraswami said. 

Attendees of the talk affirmed these strides and proposed opportunities for further collaboration to share best practices.

The Centering the Margins series creates educational spaces for members of the UMass Chan community and partners to discuss the systemic barriers that impact underserved groups and create a community that works to meet their needs and concerns.