Gender Affirming Care

Gender affirming care is something that non-trans people may not be familiar with, but for those in the trans community it can be life-saving.

Missouri’s Attorney Governor recently established an emergency rule that makes gender affirming care unavailable to certain groups of people. However, this has been met with backlash due to the importance of gender affirming care.

Mary Bockovich, the Chief Operating Officer of Allies for Health + Wellbeing, shared that gender affirming care is a way to help transgender people feel more like their authentic selves. She stated that there are both medical and non-medical parts of the care.

“Part of the trans experience is being told that there is something wrong with them,” Bockovich said. “They often feel like they were quote-unquote ‘born in the wrong body.’ And gender affirming care is really trying to bridge that gap between how they physically present and how their internal identity and the two matching lead to a greater sense of well-being.”

Some different forms of gender affirming care that trans people are given include hormone therapy and puberty blockers.

“Oftentimes people who feel gender dysmorphia will want to speak with a mental health professional about learning to accept their identity, learning to embrace themselves for their own identity whatever that identity may be,” Bockovich said. “They may want to have different pronouns than they were initially using when they were younger. These are kinds of non-medical expressions. And then medically, depending upon the age of the person, it can be puberty blockers if they’re very young, or it can be hormones, or it can be surgery, or it can be adaptations like tucking your genitals or binding your chest so that outwardly you appear more the gender you identify with.”

Allies for Health + Wellbeing, an organization in Pittsburgh whose mission is to improve health and well-being by providing medical care, supportive human services, and education for individuals with or at risk of HIV, viral hepatitis, and STIs, is one organization in Pittsburgh that provides gender affirming care.

“We work predominantly with hormone therapy–whether its estrogen to be feminized or testosterone to have a traditionally masculine presentation,” Bockovich shared. “We don’t perform surgery here.”

Additionally, the organization offers therapy to those who are transitioning and wish to take part. It is not a requirement.

Bockovich shared that people tend to spread misinformation about gender affirming care.

“There’s misinformation floating around that people who undergo gender affirming care–whether it’s hormonal or surgical or both–often regret it, and that’s actually not the case,” she said. “They regret their family’s and society’s reaction to it.”

Gender affirming care is incredibly important to the health of transgender people.

“We’re all human and we should be allowed to be our authentic selves,” Bockovich said. “And it’s not something to be afraid ­of. We’re just people, same as everybody else.”

Tia (she/her) is a recent Point Park grad who majored in journalism. She loves all things movies, music, and Pittsburgh! As the summer 2022 QBurgh intern, she’s looking forward to writing about Pittsburgh’s LGBTQIA+ community and highlighting all the cool people doing cool things in the community.