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Affirming Health Care Summit addresses well-being of trans, gender-diverse community members

Dallas Ducar presenting a keynote speech
Dallas Ducar, NP, chief executive officer of Transhealth, present the keynote speech at the inaugural Affirming Health Care for Our Trans and Gender-Diverse Communities Summit  

Addressing the landscape of disinformation and misinformation in gender affirming care was at the center of a discussion at UMass Chan Medical School last week on providing effective care and ensuring the well-being of trans and gender-diverse community members.

The inaugural Affirming Health Care for Our Trans and Gender-Diverse Communities Summit provided an opportunity for health care professionals and students to hear directly from trans and gender-diverse individuals about their health care needs.

“Even when trying to access care, so many people may not trust the care that is being provided. It starts by really trying to tackle the medical mistrust. We see the disinformation in gender affirming care. We’ve seen misinformation before in vaccines and in health care, but now it’s resulted in distrust in institutions, ostracization of individuals and violence,” said Dallas Ducar, NP, chief executive officer of Transhealth.

Transhealth is an independent health care center in Northampton that supports and empowers trans and gender-diverse individuals and families. Ducar delivered the keynote speech, “Leading with Hope: Pioneering Best Practices in Affirming Healthcare at Transhealth.” Ducar highlighted how gender-affirming health care is trauma-informed and based on consent. She also addressed the violent and discriminatory attacks on trans people and the legal landscape of transgender health care in Massachusetts and beyond.

“To combat disinformation, one key thing that needs to be done is trying to have conversations that emphasize shared values with people. It doesn’t mean talking to those who disagree with your existence, but a group of people that we call the ‘movable middle,’ or those who may not know that they’ve known a trans person, who may have been fed some misinformation on social media or in the news, but haven’t actually had a conversation on what it means to be trans or receive gender affirming care,” Ducar said.  

Kai da Costa and Dallas Ducar leading a panel discussion

Kai da Costa, DO, assistant professor of psychiatry (left), leads a panel discussion and Q&A session with Dallas Ducar, NP, and members of trans and gender-diverse community.

Kai da Costa, DO, assistant professor of psychiatry, led a patient and community voices panel discussion and Q&A session. Dr. Da Costa was joined by Ducar, and members of the trans and gender-diverse community, including Jai Santora, Trevor Boylston, Alice Romeo, Chastity Bowick and Bran Trice. Members of the panel spoke about their personal experiences and perspectives on gender identity, discrimination and advocacy.

The master of ceremonies for the summit was medical student Mina Zhang.

The event was sponsored by the Diversity and Inclusion Office at UMass Chan Medical School, UMass Memorial Health Healthcare Equality Index Steering Committee and the UMass Memorial Health Office for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging.