Planned Parenthood offices on the Central Coast started offering hormone therapy through a gender-affirming care program on June 17.
After working with partners serving the LGBTQ community on a needs assessment, the local chapter of the nonprofit expanded its services, according to Julie Mickelberry, Planned Parenthood Central Coast's vice president of community engagement.
"That determined there was a huge unmet need for gender-affirming health care along the Central Coast," she wrote in an email to New Times.
With five locations on the coast, including Planned Parenthood health centers in San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria, the local chapter of the sexual health organization joins Community Health Centers of the Central Coast and UCSB's Health Center in offering hormone treatment. Sometimes called hormone replacement therapy, gender-affirming therapy consists of either estrogen- or testosterone-based treatments. Many transgender people take hormone therapy as part of the gender transitioning process.
"If a person is experiencing gender dysphoria, hormone therapy is one option which may make make them feel more at ease with [themselves], both psychologically and physically," Mickelberry said. "Hormone therapy is often used to help create physical changes to the body."
Gender dysphoria is discomfort caused by a person's gender identity being different from the gender they were assigned at birth.
Planned Parenthood health centers in 28 states now offer gender-affirming hormone therapy, Mickelberry said. The service is offered to patients 18 and older, and the sexual health provider doesn't require patients to participate in counseling or to provide documentation from a mental health professional to receive the therapy.
Similar to the other health services Planned Parenthood provides, cost for gender-affirming care depends on an individual's needs, insurance coverage, and income. Mickelberry said the organization works with all of its patients to ensure they get the care that they need, no matter what. As of Friday, June 21, about 10 patients had received gender-affirming care services through Planned Parenthood Central Coast.
"Planned Parenthood's doors are open to everyone—regardless of gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation," Mickelberry said. "We believe that all people deserve high-quality, affordable health care and compassionate nonjudgmental sexual health information no matter who they are or where they live." Δ