A ceremony was held today in the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center to announce the opening of the GIVE (Gender Identity Veteran Experience) clinic.
The clinic will have an initial enrollment of 20 transgender veterans, aged 21 to 75. GIVE will be open on a half day each month and will be supervised by Dr. Megan McNamara, who began working with trans veterans two years ago. Dr. McNamara is a primary care and women's health doctor. She will be the clinical lead physician. The treatment team will also include a nurse, a psychologist, and a social worker.
It felt like a good fit for me, professionally, and I felt that a lot of patients could use this service.
McNamara cites studies that show that the number of transgender veterans in need of services is five times the prevalence in the non-veteran population. It is estimates that there are currently 15000 transgender service members serving on active duty.
The numbers are sort of all over the place, especially among the veteran population because it has never been safe to say (that you're a transgendered person) until now, with the military ban (on such admissions).
As far as McNamara knows this is the first dedicated transgender clinic in the VA system.
I feel there are a lot of transgender patients in the veteran population who haven't been able to find the care they need. I really want to be able to provide comprehensive, one-stop care for those patients in a welcoming environment . . . a place where they're comfortable and accepted.
I think the VA is really committed to doing this. It may be out of step with their historical approach (to patient services) but I don't think it's half-hearted at all.
Giovanni Santiago is elated and excited about the opening of the clinic, which is a concept he discussed with Dr. McNamara when he became her first transgender patient two years ago.
It's just very, very relieving to see that the VA is dedicated to this, and see all the faith put in Dr. McNamara.