March 25th, 2020

This roundup contains the minutes of our March all-members meeting and other news. Programming changes quickly as the response to COVID-19 evolves, so please seek confirmation on any details found below that may have changed since last Wednesday.

Support During Social Isolation

Regular group-based programs and events have been cancelled or postponed across the board. It seems increasingly likely that this will continue into Pride month in June.

An excerpt from Speqtrum’s COVID-19 statement: “Our community already experiences isolation and loneliness at disproportionately high rates. The cancellation of events, programs, and in person supports has been really difficult for some 2SLGBTQIA+ youth in our community. We also know that some of us can’t afford time off work, or to stock up on supplies to prepare for a possible quarantine. Some of us are now facing an indefinite period of time at home with parents, family members, or roommates, who aren’t supportive of our communities or identities. Some of us may be going back in the closet, or hiding parts of ourselves that we’re used to expressing. We see you, we’re here for you, and we’re going to work through this together as a community, as best as we can.”

Speqtrum is providing opportunities for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth to connect online, with activities like live cooking and games and dedicated peer support hours. Follow their Instagram for weekly updates and connect the youth you know. Read Speqtrum’s full statement (linked above) which includes other resources, like LGBT Youth Line, Trans Lifeline, and a community-created list of free supports.

Kyle’s Place has posted on Facebook that it can provide support in Hamilton, Niagara, Brantford, and Halton to trans and non-binary people needing grocery/med delivery or rides to appointments. Contact transpeersupport@gmail.com or make an inquiry through the Facebook page.

Catherine McCormack is the new 2SLGBTQAI+ Mental Health Clinician with Good Shepherd Youth Services. She has relaxed the regular intake process to be able to provide telephone, email-check in, texting and Skype support to 2SLGBTQAI+ youth (up to age 25) in a more flexible way. You can contact her directly if you’d like to refer someone who needs support. (info@hamiltontranshealth.ca can provide her direct email if you don’t have it.) Catherine is also available to front-line folk for consultation and brainstorming ideas.

Kyle at Compass Community Health uses some of his time on Thursdays to make phone calls to connect with clients who are feeling isolated and need to chat. This is primarily for Compass clients but there is some flexibility to expand this friendly-calling to others in need.

The AIDS Network has extended the hours of The VAN in response to the need to close the office. It will operate its regular hours from 7pm-11pm every night, and additionally on Monday to Friday from 9:00am-11:30am, and 2:30pm-5:30pm. The VAN is a confidential service provided in partnership with Hamilton Public Health Services that travels anywhere in Hamilton and is available at a requested meeting spot. A mobile van will deliver new needles and harm reduction supplies and receive for safe disposal any used harm reduction supplies upon request. Text or call 905-317-9966.

Some clinics and practices are classifying injection visits to be “non urgent” which means they must be cancelled, and family doctors are closing their offices which further restricts access to hormone injections. Some brainstorming at the meeting addressed a specific need (Trans Community Health, NP at Youth Wellness Centre, some possible capacity at practices, Compass) but please reach out if you know of people who aren’t able to get injections or capacity to accommodate people who need injections.

If you offer or are aware of new initiatives that assist trans, gender-diverse, and non-binary folk who are negatively impacted by the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please share them.

Call for Medical Professionals and Trainees

If you are a clinician or in training to become a clinician — medicine, physio, nursery, midwifery, etc. — HAMSMaRT (Hamilton Social Medicine Response Team) needs your help to staff social isolation centres that serve people who are affected by homelessness and COVID-19. Contact info@hamsmart.ca to inquire.

HAMSMaRT and Keeping Six have started a weekly newsletter to keep people informed about their work to ensure support is maintained and adapted for people who are homeless and people who use drugs, and opportunities to support that work. Subscribe by emailing info@hamsmart.ca. Some recommended actions from the first newsletter:

  • DONATE (or ask people in your network to donate) https://keepingsix.org/support
  • VOLUNTEER Do you have a front porch/outdoor drop off zone and storage space to accept donations of warm hats, mitts, and socks? If so, email us volunteer@keepingsix.org and let us know, we need you!
  • DONATE warm hats, warm wool socks, warm mitts (stay tuned for details on where to donate once we have procured a place)
  • VOLUNTEER Are you asymptomatic, with limited exposure to potential COVID-19 cases, and baking skills? We are looking for a few people to donate their time and skill to make home baked goods for bagged lunches. If this is you, email us volunteer@keepingsix.org and let us know, we need you!
  • DONATE juice boxes, pop, and/or groceries for baking, as requested by our bakers. If you can provide these, email us volunteer@keepingsix.org and let us know, we need you!
  • DONATE wagons for outreach.  We need 3 more large folding canvas wagons.  If you are willing to temporarily lend yours or know someone who would email volunteer@keepingsix.org so we can coordinate drop off.  
  • AMPLIFY our messages on twitter @HAMSMaRTeam and @keepingsix and by forwarding the weekly newsletter, so that decision makers LISTEN to people who are homeless and/or who use drugs about what they need right now

Qmmunity Binbrook

This new LGBTQ2S+ meet-up group in Binbrook rescheduled its March meeting to Tuesday April 18th. This meet-up is social and supportive. Feel free to bring a friend or family ally, and drop in for part of the meeting or stay throughout. Coffee, tea, water, and timbits provided!

We will provide updates closer to that date from Qmmunity Binbrook about whether the in-person meeting will go ahead or be rescheduled, as the regular meeting place (Tim Horton’s on Hwy 56 Binbrook) presently has its seating area closed.

Student Positions

We occasionally receive requests from students who are looking for summer jobs or course placements in programs concerned with trans health, gender-affirming care, and health advocacy. If you are interested in being forwarded inquiries of this type or you have opportunities you’d like us to share with students and youth, please let us know.

RHO Trans Health Mentorship Call – Updates

The email summary of the bi-weekly mentorship call that Rainbow Health Ontario offers includes a Q&A section on the clinical discussion and an updates section. We discussed the updates section at the March meeting and a participant requested that we seek permission from RHO to share these updates regularly. RHO has allowed us to! We can’t share the clinical discussion summaries, but you may join the call yourself or join up for the full summary emails from RHO at this link.

  • Sherbourne is developing new supports for trans folks of all gender identities before, during, and after transition-related surgeries. These include educational workshops, group programs, and online resources. Aiming to launch Winter and Spring 2020. Check website for updates and send questions to transprograms@sherbourne.on.ca
  • Initial data from TransPULSE Canada now available: https://transpulsecanada.ca
  • Rainbow Health Ontario is looking for an MD or NP who is currently doing trans care in the Thunder Bay area to co-facilitate clinical trainings in that region. For more information, please contact Silvana Hernando, Clinical Educator at sbazet@rainbowhealthontario.ca.
  • MOHLTC processing time for applications currently at 10 weeks.
  • Participants sought for a bone density health study, post orchiectomy or oophorectomy. Must be 20 years old or over and scheduled for procedure in the next 6 months. Contact Dr. Raymond Fung for more info: rfung@tegh.on.ca or 416-915-5460.
  • 4th edition of Sherbourne’s Guidelines for trans care is now available at http://www.rainbowhealthontario.ca/guidelines
  • New requirement from GRS: include a photocopy of the patient’s OHIP card with the application package.
  • Resources for creating welcome spaces: Article on ‘Caring for your patients identifying as sexual and gender minorities’ https://dialogue.cpso.on.ca/2019/12/creating-a-welcoming-space. Contact Ruby if you would like an additional infographic for your working space, created by UofT.
  • Women’s College Hospital posting for a Post-doctoral Fellow – Transgender Health. For further information about the fellowship, or to submit your application package, please contact Evelina Rutkowski at Evelina.rutkowski@wchospital.ca
  • Next version of WPATH Standards of Care coming late 2020.
  • Women’s College Hospital Transition Related Surgery program’s Grand Rounds. Phone number and contact information on their website to get on the distribution list.
  • Telemedicine – Dr. Kate Greenaway/Dr. Chris Cavacuiti – self referral at https://www.connect-clinic.com
  • Transforming Rounds: a series of podcasts engaging with the latest research on Trans healthcare in Canada. Together, healthcare providers and trans/gender diverse health care users navigate the complexities of a cis normative health care system.

The mentorship call is on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month, noon to 1pm. A mental health mentor is also available on the 1st Wednesday. Open to any professional (physician, nurse, social worker, mental health worker, etc.) who is already working with gender-diverse clients or who is intending to. Register (form at bottom of page) to get call access information.

Other Updates

  • Rebecca Welbourn at Health Information Technology Services has agreed to help the coalition develop materials to make using eConsult and connecting to the two transgender specialty groups (HNHB and Provincial) easier for family physicians who are new to gender-affirming care. So for example, instead of saying “eConsult is available to you” we can go more in-depth, maybe including the registration process or a “here’s what to expect” in training resources on our website.
  • LGBT Youth Line is operating is regular hours but offering support by chat, text, and email (i.e. no phone) due to its youth staff working from home. This is a support service that runs Sun-Fri 4-9:30p, and is not a crisis line.
  • The main portion of the course pilot has been completed, and the Education Working Group has gathered a lot of valuable information from participants. Adrian extended thanks on behalf of the EWG to all the participants. Unfortunately the in-person practicum where participants could interact with simulated patients had to be cancelled because McMaster cancelled non-urgent activities in medical centre facilities. We are beginning the process of seeing what we’ve learned and where the course can be improved to address feedback gathered in the pilot.
  • SAGE and other groups at Youth Wellness Centre are not currently running.
  • The coalition’s response to email inquiries is not meeting its response-time goals (three business days). If this continues we should assess whether we need to change the part of the website that advises people what to expect, add additional volunteers to increase capacity, or look at whether it’s feasible for the coalition to provide this service.
  • A non-profit corporation called Hamilton Trans Health Coalition Inc. has been established to provide structure (bank account, accept donations, enter into partnerships, contract, sell, employ, etc.) to support the coalition’s ongoing work.
  • Members identified a gap in services in Hamilton: support for partners of trans people (e.g. peer-support groups). What can the coalition do to address a gap like this? Who might be working on closing this gap already? What resources are available (e.g. Compass and TAN for space, grants to establish)? What pitfalls should we avoid (e.g. expecting volunteer labour to sustain a service)?
  • Is there a group in Hamilton to support trans women having bottom gender affirming surgery? If not, what would be a good model for such a group (like a Facebook resource with Q&A service supported by people with lived experience and clinicians, approach a health centre with an idea like this).
  • Some practitioners with full practices find themselves with an open session here or there (e.g. a counselling spot) and want to prioritize access for 2SLGBTAI+ folk; would that be best done by advertising occasional spaces to the email list or is there a better way to match up need with this kind of irregular opportunity?

Terms of Reference

At each coalition meeting we will highlight a section of our terms of reference, so we can develop a common understanding of our purpose among long-time and new members, and so we can discuss if changes are needed.

This month, the four goals of the coalition:

  1. Be responsive to requests from the community, to connect people to services or supports when they are available and to catalogue gaps when the connection cannot be made.
  2. Provide formal education opportunities that expand the capacity of the health care system in Hamilton to serve trans individuals.
  3. Provide professional mentorship that expands the capacity of the health care system in Hamilton to serve trans individuals.
  4. Advocate for trans individuals’ access to high quality, comprehensive, evidence-based and patient-centred health care in Hamilton, using the data and knowledge we have gathered through our work.

Next Meeting

The next all-members meeting of the coalition is Wednesday, May 20th at 5pm.