November 22, 2023 by
Lucy Gardner Carson
Associate Professor of Pediatrics Erica Gibson, M.D. (left), and Assistant Professor of Family Medicine Anja Jokela, M.D.
(November 22, 2023) Erica Gibson, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, division chief of adolescent medicine at the UVM Medical Center, and medical director of the Transgender Youth Program at the UVM Children’s Hospital, and Anja Jokela, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine, a physician at the UVM Medical Center, and coordinator of a statewide gender-affirming care working group of 30 providers, commented to Seven Days for an article on transgender newcomers finding safety, services, and community in Vermont.
Although there are still gaps in what’s available, Vermont offers relatively inclusive health care, experts say. Over the past decade, the Green Mountain State has emerged as a leader in the field of LGBTQ+-friendly health care. Under Vermont law, for example, gender-affirming care must be covered under any insurance plans offered here. And Vermont boasts a growing network of primary-care providers who have been trained to work with LGBTQ+ patients.
Through a remote training program coordinated by UVM’s Larner College of Medicine, rural physicians have learned how to address transgender patients using gender-neutral language during routine checkups and how to prescribe hormone replacement drugs. Some hospitals have created their own LGBTQ+ care programs and trained their doctors in everything from gender-neutral primary care, such as offering gynecological services to all patients, to alcohol- and substance-use treatment tailored to LGBTQ+ clients. The Transgender Youth Program at the UVM Children’s Hospital provides support, resources, and referrals to transgender youth and their families.
“I would venture to guess that people are a bit more gender-affirming [in Vermont] than in some other states,” Gibson said. “Medical students and residents really want to learn about [transgender care] and be able to provide it.”
“We’re all sort of anticipating seeing more out-of-state political refugees,” said Jokela.
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