UHS gender care appointments provide hormone replacement therapy options for students

Savana Dunning

In an effort to help transgender students, University Health Services started gender care appointments to provide services for students on or interested in getting hormone replacement therapy. For students like Alex Donovan, hormone replacement therapy is an essential part of transitioning. 

“It’s just a way to not feel like a stranger to your body,” said Donovan, an arts and entertainment technology junior. “It helps you feel more comfortable with who you are.”

Hormone replacement therapy is the practice of taking estrogen or testosterone to alter someone’s appearance and better match their gender identity. The appointments began this past September and are designed to accommodate students who have been on hormone replacement therapy for at least one year, or to help direct students interested in hormone replacement therapy to resources that can help them. Students can sign up for appointments through either the Women’s Health Clinic or the General Medicine Clinic on the MyUHS portal online.

Melinda McMichael, UHS’ interim executive director, said UHS will maintain and monitor the hormone prescriptions of students who are already on hormone replacement therapy, but are currently living far away from their initial provider.

“When you prescribe a medication, you’re not only prescribing it, but you’re monitoring the condition for which you’re prescribing, so that means making sure it’s the appropriate dosage, that the appropriate lab tests are monitored, screening tests, et cetera,” McMichael said. “You’re basically assuming care. Say someone has a doctor in California who is prescribing them hormones, but they can’t see that doctor any further. Then they need to find a new doctor to prescribe them hormones.” 

McMichael said a few appointments have been made already. She also said these appointments are a stepping stone for UHS to start initiating hormone replacement therapy in the future, though she said the date for when that will start is still unknown.

“Our doctors have made the decision that they want to gain experience with this and they want to learn about it, because it’s really a relatively new thing,” McMichael said. “Really we’re on a learning curve.”

In the meantime, students who are curious about hormone replacement therapy can also make gender care appointments, where doctors at UHS can help determine what they need and then refer them to outside care facilities that can help them with their needs.

Liz Elsen, director of the Gender and Sexuality Center, said students have often asked the center about hormone replacement therapy, and usually the center would have to point to outside clinics such as the Kind Clinic, a program that provides sexual health services. Now, students have UHS as a closer resource.

“Not having to travel off campus to access hormones will make them more accessible to UT students,” Elsen said in an email.

Although Donovan has already started hormone replacement therapy with a local Planned Parenthood, he said he would have done it through UHS if given the option.

“I feel like this is the age, between senior year of high school and during college, where people start hormone therapy,” Donovan said. “For people who are from smaller places who, in their hometown, don’t have a lot of places to get hormones, if the University could be the person to supply that, I feel like a lot of people would take advantage of it.”