The Gender Spectrum Collection by Zackary Drucker
Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly's Gender Spectrum Collection. Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection. Made available to media outlets via Creative Commons. No derivatives, no commercial use. See guidelines here: broadlygenderphotos.vice.com/guidelines
Zee Thompson, Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator
When arriving to Canada as a refugee, it was very important for me to access quality healthcare. For me, quality healthcare would mean finding a nutritionist, a counsellor and a doctor who understood that I was trans and what my needs were because of this.
Where could I find all of these services? It would have to be near where I live because money was scarce, some months having to choose between food and bills. I thought, “what if I can find a place that gives me food and everything else that I need?” Life would certainly be easier and survival would be feasible.
I lived at Main and Danforth during that time and there was a nearby facility called Access Alliance that offered everything I needed—not initially but eventually. They were located at Victoria Park and Danforth and I used to walk there for group meetings with other LGBTQ new comers. We discussed many topics that would help our seamless adjustment to Canada. After two months of group sessions, which came with a serving of hot food, Access Alliance informed us that they would be taking new patients at their clinic. I registered right away.
Since 2013, my style was a representation of the gender I felt I was. As soon as I could verbalize that I was trans without being held captive by the chains of religion and family expectations, I told my nurse practitioner. We discussed what steps I wanted to take to further the process of medically transitioning. She encouraged me to have top surgery as opposed to taking testosterone, commonly referred to as “T”. I didn’t take her advice though.
Even though she wasn’t convinced that I needed to take testosterone, she arranged an appointment with the Endocrinologist at the Michael Garron hospital. She also wanted to refer me to another clinic for my T-shots, but I insisted that I did not want to find a new doctor.
Although she originally encouraged me to go elsewhere, after a discussion she agreed to continue my care at Access Alliance. Rather than going to the popular clinics around Toronto that were known for offering trans health care, I wanted to stay close to where I lived. I wanted to stay in the community of people who had grown to like me and appreciate my trans presence. I also wanted to be in walking distance from my counsellor, my nutritionist, my doctor and somewhere I could go to for hot food.
When talking to my community about where to go to find quality sexual health and gender identity care, I encourage them to utilize establishments in the community that are reputable. These type of facilities, the ones that prioritize the patients’ happiness, are rare. If you should find one of these establishments as a trans or non-binary person, it might serve you better to stay where you already feel safe, appreciated and encouraged to flourish.
Check out the accompanying Instagram post for this #Pride365 blog here.