Trans Health Navigator Pilot Project Changing Lives
Two months into the Trans Health Navigator research project and those involved are seeing positive results.
Drs. Megan Clark and Stéphanie Madill’s research within the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) focuses on improving health care services for trans and gender diverse (TGD) people in Saskatchewan. It is a community-led research project in partnership with the province's trans community.
Clark and Madill secured a SPROUT grant for this project from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation and the SK Centre for Patient-Oriented Research. Clark’s earlier support, however, from the SHA’s Clinician Research Support Program laid an important foundation for the pilot project though grant-writing, literature reviews, and an environmental scan. OUTSaskatoon is hosting Elijah as the Saskatoon-based peer health navigator, and UR Pride is hosting Ken in Regina. Both positions are being piloted for 12 months. The Trans Health Navigators are part of the larger research project - Trans Research and Navigation Saskatchewan (TRANS) - which began in 2018 by the SK Trans Health Coalition.
OUTSaskatoon and UR Pride are also providing community connections, expertise in service provision, and supervision.
“Our community partners provide the expertise and capacity for mobilization upon which the whole project depends,” explains Clark. “Lived experience and community connections are the most important expertise in this project.”
Over half of the research team identifies as 2SLGBTQ+. That lived experience is one of the reasons Madill was asked to co-lead this project; she has been involved in 2SLGBTQ+ activism for more than 30 years.
“I am lesbian and queer, and have personally experienced both difficulty finding healthcare providers who were able to provide me with appropriate care and discrimination from healthcare providers,” she notes. “This work is important because adequate, safe, culturally-competent healthcare is essential for people to live their lives fully. It is very difficult to feel pride in oneself if one’s basic healthcare needs are not being met, or when one needs to conceal parts of oneself to get needed care, or when one must tolerate bigotry and discrimination to get care.”
In the short time he has been in his role, these very barriers have been brought to Elijah’s attention.
“Accessing healthcare facilities is one of those things that might be taken granted for some people because we’ve been taught that medical facilities are a safe space for anyone, but this isn’t always necessarily true,” adds Elijah.
Since he began his role in April, Elijah says an incredible amount of people have been accessing the services.
“The most powerful thing that I have noticed is the large amount of people reaching out to us for information to better support their loved ones through an exciting, but stressful time,” he says. “It’s great to know our community members have so many caring people that just want to do the best that they can to support their loved ones.”
Madill says this project is a direct intervention that will help TGD people get the care they need, as well as help healthcare providers become more knowledgeable about treating TGD people.
“Our hope is that we will be able to make a very compelling case for continuing the navigator service permanently and increase cultural competence among healthcare providers, which should combine to reduce the healthcare disparities experienced by people who are TGD in our province.”