'One-Stop Shop' for Trans Healthcare Offered This Weekend

BY KATE OPALEWSKI

In an effort to raise awareness and connect members of the transgender community with affirming healthcare service providers, Affirmations in Ferndale will host Transgender Michigan's sixth annual transgender health fair from 1-4 p.m. on Sept. 16.

"Trans people need affirming holistic healthcare because we matter. Often providers err on the side of being sensitive and not really know what that means. It's essential that every staff member in a medical system from the front line to medical providers, understand the diverse trans needs. Trans people are so different, and our transition differs. We need providers who are willing to see that difference and offer us true respectable, preventative healthcare. Specifically for trans women of color, who often get insulted at their doctors or have no access to go to trained medical specialists," said Lilianna Angel Reyes, program services director at the LGBTQ community center.

"Come just to make friends with others like yourself," said Rachel Crandall Crocker, executive director and co-founder of TGMI.

Last year, the transgender health fair attracted attendees from Ohio and Indiana. "Reaching people from out of state is something we hope to do again," she said, adding that TGMI is bringing together a variety of exhibitors for a "one-stop shopping experience for trans healthcare."

She is excited to celebrate the organization's 20-year anniversary with local businesses and sponsors that will hand out free giveaways and offer up critical information through conversation, the distribution of literature and workshops titled "Voice for the Transgender Individual," "Explaining the Process from the Provider Perspective and Preventative Health," and "How to Choose a Therapist."

Crandall Crocker said services provided this year differ from previous years with a more hands-on approach including free mini-massages and blood pressure screenings.

Offering up a unique alternative to traditional healing methods will be art therapist Theresa Quinn, ATR, LMFT - the owner of Quinn Art Therapy in Southfield.

"Art therapy is beneficial to anyone who is open to trying it. It uses art to explore issues of concern, and to identify solutions if need be. For some people, expressive language can be a barrier to exploration, so art making can be helpful in the process," said Quinn, who will attend the fair as a member of the LGBTQ community that wants to provide a supportive presence.

"I want to share what I have to offer to interested individuals. Access to affirming care of any kind is critical to the trans community, as there are so many barriers to such care out there. Everyone deserves to have their authentic self honored and cared for," said Quinn.

Patrick Yankee, development officer and spokesperson for Corktown Health Center in Detroit said, "We are looking forward to introducing ourselves as we are ready to open our new medical home for the LGBTQ community of southeastern Michigan. Our health center will provide comprehensive care in an affirming environment to all persons in the transgender community. This effort has been in the making for a long time, but it is one hope will begin a new era of queer focused health services for the region."

Brayden A. Misiolek, co-founder and executive/operations officer with Transcend the Binary in Ferndale said, "It's an honor to once again be a part of such a unique and critical health fair for the trans* community. Events like the transgender health fair are so incredibly important because it takes a collective impact of resources and support so everyone in our community has the equality and peace of mind they deserve."

Transcend the Binary is one of many components in that collective. It's a trans*-led organization that believes the term 'healthcare' is too often over-simplified. To this organization, healthcare is physical, mental and social well-being, and they have built their services to reflect that, according to Misiolek. Those services range from consultations to hormone education, to a gym buddy program and community groups - all so people constantly feel surrounded by support.

"Our services are free, too, because there are enough barriers facing trans* folks in terms of culturally and medically competent physicians and insurance coverage, as well as income restrictions," said Misiolek. "That's another reason the fair is so incredible - in a time like we live in, it's good to know you have a friend in your journey, and events like this one show you who those folks are."

The full list of this year's exhibitors include the University of Michigan Medical School; Transcend the Binary; Massage Therapy by Allen Fender; Quinn Art Therapy, PLLC; Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Navigation Program; Area Agency on Aging 1-B; Detroit HealthLink (Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University); Health Emergency Lifeline Programs; Excel Employment Options; Lisa Rowinski, Senior Counseling Services, LLC; Safe Space Therapeutic Services; Detroit Health Department; Support the T; FairSky Foundation; Two Paths Integrative Wellness; and Transformative Solutions Counseling Service.

David Ryals contributed to this report.

For more information about the event located at 290 W. Nine Mile Road in Ferndale, visit Transgender Michigan on Facebook or on the organization's website.
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