WPATH 2016 Biennial Symposium in Amsterdam

Posted by on June 16, 2016

transgender-healthStarting tomorrow, I will be attending the World Professional Association for Transgender 
Health (WPATH) Biennial Symposium in Amsterdam, a 5-day conference that draws health professionals who work in transgender health across the world. It’s a great opportunity for networking, resource sharing, and learning about the ways that providers from different countries are having the same (or similar) conversations.

This year I will be co-presenting at the following workshops/symposia:

  • American Psychological Association (2015) Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Clients: Implementing Affirmative Counseling Approaches Over the Lifespan.
  • Trans and Gender Nonconforming Therapists: On Disclosure, Countertransference, and Navigating Dynamics of Privilege and Marginalization.
  • Sex-Positivity in Mental Health Services for Transgender People.
  • Surgical Readiness Classes for Gender Affirming Surgeries In An Integrated Health Care Transgender Clinic: Class Overview & Patient Assessment.

Those who know my work and my approach well are aware that I am not always in support of traditional models of providing/controlling access to gender-affirming health care, and I think it’s important to continually question the norm, as the “norm” has historically meant oppressive structures that do not empower and partner with transgender clients/patients and their communities. I hope to share my observations, as well as a critical analysis of what is currently happening in trans health care and how WPATH is informing the field. At this moment, I am feeling very committed to trying to advocate for change within existing power structures that affect the ways that transgender and gender nonconforming people are viewed and treated when trying to access health care. I say “at this moment” because there may be a point when I believe it is better to create new, alternative models.

Here are just a few of the questions that I am bringing with me to the conference, and I hope they may be helpful for other providers as well in framing their work with transgender and gender nonconforming people in general:
* Who has a voice in conversations about trans health care? Whose voices are the loudest?
* What are the roles of allies? How is power shared or distributed?
* How limited or expansive are discussions of gender identity in relation to other aspects of identity and experience? How, if at all, are race, class, and ability integrated into these discussions?
* What is the role of transgender and gender nonconforming providers in trans health care?
* When speaking about transgender and gender nonconforming clients/patients, who is the expert?
* How can perspectives on “transgender health care” move beyond transition-related care (i.e., hormones, surgery)?
* In light of the tragic mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse gay night club where 49 LGBTQ people of color were killed and 53 were injured, what is the role of WPATH and health care providers in addressing the perpetuation of violence, homophobia, transphobia, and racism towards communities we work with? How are “safe spaces” for LGBTQ people supported or necessitated by interactions with health care providers? How do providers do harm to transgender and gender nonconforming people, especially transgender and gender nonconforming people of color, by neglecting their needs and stories or refusing to acknowledge how race and class impact access to care?
* How can discussions about nonbinary identity or experience be framed in a way that does not reinforce the view of binary as normal?
* How can the field move toward centering the experiences of transgender women of color? Beyond creating spaces where transgender women of color are the ones expected to do the work?
* In what ways is it possible or impossible to even discuss “transgender health care” in a universal way across geography, legislation, culture, and access?
* What old ideas still need to be discarded?
* What is my positionality, and how does this bias the ways I think about the work or hear others’ perspectives?
* What does the practice of cultural humility look like?
* What is not being said? What can we learn from these blank spaces?

I hope to live tweet things that are newsworthy, so feel free to follow me on Twitter @drsandchang. I invite you to send me (e-mail, comment, tweet) your questions.

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