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Trangender Michigan will host their 8th annual Transgender Health Fair on Saturday, Sept. 29. The fair will take place at Affirmations from 1 to 4 p.m. and Dr. Patricia Schmidt of the Center for Transforming Health will be the featured speaker.
“Dr. Schmidt will also be available to talk to individuals at her exhibitor booth,” said Transgender Michigan Executive Director Rachel Crandall-Crocker. “We’ve never had a doctor available to talk with individuals before, so we’re really excited about this.”
Crandall-Crocker said that the health fair is important “because many trans individuals do not have access to health care of any kind.”
“And some trans individuals cannot even remember the last time they saw a doctor,” she said. “Some might be very sick and not even know it. There are many health disparities for trans people. They include the need for hormones and surgeries, the fact that doctors are not trained at all about trans issues and the fact that some doctors refuse to treat transgender people for anything — including things that have nothing to do with being trans.”
For her part, Schmidt will deliver her talk on the subject of hormones.
“Hormones are so important for so many reasons,” said Crandall-Crocker. “Many trans people buy their hormones from the internet and not from an actual pharmacy. When they do that they do not know what they are actually getting. It might not be hormones at all. It could be anything. Another problem is that many people who do not get their hormones from a doctor do not get the blood work done that they need to. They could be on the wrong dosage and type of hormones. And those hormones could be damaging their bodies.”
The decision if and when to start hormones is a unique choice each trans person much make, according to Schmidt.
“When one senses that they are not ‘in the body’ they believe they were meant to be born into, then looking at using hormones to masculinize or feminize would be indicated,” she said. “One does not need to be on hormones to feel whole, though for a number of individuals for whom I care, (the) use of hormone therapy is the missing piece.”
The impact of cross-sex hormone therapy, said Schmidt, can be amazing for the person who chooses to go that route.
“It feels like Christmas every day [is what] my patients [say] once they have begun on their journey with hormones,” Schmidt said. “The first thing they report is that they ‘feel normal inside.’ The piece that was missing has been replaced and the hormone that was very low has now begun to come to a ‘normal level’ for that person. After the initial sense of feeling congruent inside, the outer self begins to have its changes – more masculine features for the female-to-male, and more feminine features for the male-to-female. There is a shift in their confidence that they are now becoming their most unique and authentic self.”
However, according to Schmidt, finding the right doctor is just as important of one’s journey on hormones as finding the correct hormones.
“I think it is most important that when individuals are thinking about going onto hormones for medical transition, they find a physician with whom they feel confident and secure,” she said. “There needs to be collaboration, doctor with patient, because it is the patient who needs to be able to live with their decisions and physical changes. … It is important to have full awareness and make the decisions that are right for you.”
In addition to Schmidt’s speech, there will also be a workshop offered called Lipstick Changing Lives. Trans women will be taught make up techniques and interested persons are asked to bring their own makeup.
“The makeup workshop is very important because trans women coming out have not had the gradual learning process through the years that cis women have had,” said Crandall-Crocker. “So they know nothing about makeup. Thus, they often have poor confidence and low self-esteem.”