Point Scholars Educating Medical Students on Transgender Healthcare Issues

Point Scholars are required to complete an annual Community Service Project (CSP) that will positively impact the LGBTQ community. Point Scholar Eli Capello and Wells Fargo Point Scholar Shane Du chose to educate future health professionals on transgender health issues at their own schools. Below are highlights from their CSPs: 

TransHealth Workshop

Eli (center, white shirt) with participants at the TransHealth Workshop at Centenary College of Louisiana

Eli created a series of three workshops targeting the ally community in Shreveport, including students and professors at Louisana State University Health Sciences Center (LSU-HSC) and Centenary College. The main purpose of this project was to educate future health professionals and the ally community about the barriers to access to health services transgender people face in Louisiana. A total of 120 second year medical students were required to attend the first workshop held at the LSU-HSC Medical School in Shreveport, Louisiana.  To educate future health professionals, panel discussions included transgender patients and various health professionals who work with transgender patients, such as Dr. Albritton, an endocrinologist in Shreveport. The workshop educating college students was less formal in structure; students played activities in order to gain insight about the issues a transgender person might face in Louisiana. Students asked questions about how to make the environment of their future practices more welcoming to transgender patients.

How do I make my future practice a more welcoming environment for transgender people?”         – 2nd year medical student at LSUHSC, Shreveport

Students were also informed of the medical transition process some transgender people undergo, the health risks associated with this process, and important health screenings for transgender people (ex: prostate cancer for transwomen).  Additional workshops were hosted at Centenary College informing students of  the political and the health access barriers transgender people face. The main activity involved handing participants a card with either a circle or a square (some were even an in between shape) and then separating according to their shape.

Should I teach sexual differentiation in the human brain in my neuroscience classes?”       – Greg Butcher, PhD, Centenary College

A workshop designed to educate college professors about creating a more welcoming class environment was a mixture of both panel discussion and activities. Several professors took steps to make their classrooms a more welcoming environment to transgender students. Overall, the feedback from the workshops was positive and made a lasting impact on the Shreveport community.

Results/Impact

  • Future health professionals learned about the meaning of gender identity, preferred gender pronouns, and how to make their future practices a more welcoming environment (ex: access gender neutral bathrooms for patients).
  • Future health professionals learned about health risks transgender people face.
  • Professors learned binary language to avoid in classroom discussions
  • Students were empowered by knowing health risks and issues LGBT young adults might face
Shane_Du_Trans_education_series

Shane (center, red shirt) with students from the healthcare education series

Shane Du introduced healthcare for transgender patients before a student audience, as part of a transgender healthcare education series at SUNY Upstate. Transgender patients remain one of the most marginalized groups in our society today. They often find medical care hostile and inaccessible. The sooner physicians are exposed to care for transgender patients, the better they will be able to care for them.

Shane held discussions with curriculum faculty on ways to incorporate transgender healthcare into its curriculum including lectures and discussion series specifically devoted to transgender care for medical students. Together with President of the Endocrinology Club, Shane hosted a joint panel discussion session on healthcare for trans patients, where a couple of trans patients and their physicians shared their experience with healthcare and addressed questions from an enthusiastic audience of close to 100 students from all fields of healthcare.

Shane is now President of Campus LGBTQ Alliance and built a six-member leadership team that includes an unprecedented five non-LGBT members. “I feel that the past LGBTQ Alliance at SUNY Upstate is too limited in its scope and with a strong leadership team, we have big plans for the 2013-2014 academic year,” Shane said.  “Strengthening the LGBTQ student leadership and raising students’ awareness of LGBTQ healthcare are tremendously helpful to medical students’ becoming compassionate physicians for transgender patients.”

About Point Scholar Eli Capello
Eli Capello was raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is attending Centenary College of Louisiana, where he founded Soul Force II which will advocate for gender identity and/or expression to be added to the non discrimination policies of universities throughout the southeast. Eli continues to devote himself to LGBTQ activism and hopes to integrate his interest in medicine to make the medical field more friendly and accepting to LGBTQ patients. Learn more about Eli.
About Wells Fargo Point Scholar Shane Du
Shane grew up in conservative rural China. Battling incessant harassment because of her gender expression, she found solace in academics. Shane obtained a BS degree in Chemical Engineering and came to the U.S. with a graduate engineering scholarship. She aspires to work as a primary care physician caring for LGBTQ patients. Learn more about Shane.