Gender-affirming hormone therapy

Jun 26, 2024

We are now offering hormone therapy to adult patients seeking gender-affirming treatment. Established primary care patients or new patients who are interested in getting hormone therapy here may call us for an appointment at (603) 447-8900.

We have long offered support for transgender patients, but patients seeking gender-affirming hormone treatment have had to travel to gender clinics at Dartmouth Hitchcock or Maine Medical Center in Portland. Dartmouth Hitchcock’s Transgender Health Program recently provided training in prescribing hormone therapy and managing gender-affirming treatment to allow the health center’s primary care team to offer these more comprehensive services locally.

Director of Operations Julie Hill, RN, explained, “At White Mountain Community Health Center, caring for the whole person isn't simply part of our tagline – we mean it. Gender-affirming care is an absolutely essential part of caring for the whole person.”

A patient seeking gender-affirming healthcare will typically meet with their primary care provider and have a conversation about what they’re experiencing, what their goals are, other current challenges in life, and what resources might allow them to reach those goals.

The provider and patient come up with a plan together for the most appropriate care based on the patient’s goals and World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) guidelines. WPATH is an evidence-based standard of care for assessment, education, and safety standards for gender-affirming care.

We currently only provide gender-affirming hormone treatment to adults 18 and over. Transgender patients under 18 and their families are also encouraged to reach out to their provider for resources and support.

Providers working with transgender patients say it’s exciting to see people who were previously really struggling with mental health challenges or socially isolated, now feel more confident in themselves and more able to engage in the world after getting gender-affirming treatment. Sometimes patients being treated for mental health are able to stop taking medications for anxiety or depression after transitioning, when they finally feel like themselves.

Improving access to gender-affirming care is recommended by the American Medical Association (AMA), The Department of Health and Human Services, and The American Psychological Association. According to the AMA, social affirmation and gender-affirming care are linked with decreased rates of suicide, depression, anxiety, and substance use for transgender patients.

Offering hormone therapy at the health center makes gender-affirming care more accessible for Mount Washington Valley residents in ways that go beyond making it easier to get to appointments. While treatment is covered by health insurance, patients without health insurance can use the health center’s sliding fee scale to make appointments affordable. The health center also offers help with transportation and free translation for people best served in a language other than English.

In addition to offering this new service, the health center is committed to making sure LGBTQIA+ patients have a welcoming experience from soup to nuts. “If people don't feel safe and affirmed when accessing healthcare, then they probably aren't getting all of the care that they truly need,” said Hill.

This month, all staff took “Foundations of LGBTQIA+ Health,” a training offered by the National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center, which provides technical assistance to health centers. Forms are regularly reviewed to make sure they meet best practices and make sense for all patients and their families. The health center is in the process of transitioning to a new electronic medical record system, and one criteria for choosing the new system was that it use pronouns and names correctly in patient charts and communications.

“Like the rest of the community, this is an area that hits close to home for us,” said Executive Director JR Porter. “Transgender people and other LGBTQIA+ people are a valued part of our community, and we have a responsibility to provide them with the best care possible.”