by Sasha Rivera - Communications & Marketing Specialist, University Health Services
Healthcare providers and administrators at University Health Services (UHS) have long recognized that cisgender women face unique barriers to accessing quality healthcare. Since 1971, UHS has provided services like birth control, vaginal exams, Pap tests, pregnancy testing, and diagnosis and treatment of period-related issues, STIs, UTIs, and vaginal infections. For over 10 years, these services have been offered in our Women’s Health Clinic, located on the ground floor of UHS and staffed entirely by women.
In the time since the Women’s Health Clinic was established, UHS also recognized the need for and began providing transgender healthcare, including gender-affirming hormone therapy. UMass community members now access these services in both the Women’s Health Clinic and in our General Medicine Clinics.
We have taken pride in the fact that we provide specialized, quality care both in our Women’s Health Clinic, and to patients seeking gender-affirming care at UHS. However, we have received feedback that, for patients who are not cisgender women - including trans, nonbinary, genderqueer, and two-spirit patients - the name “Women’s Health Clinic” itself has been, for some, a barrier to seeking and receiving needed health care. By using a gendered name for this clinic, we have marginalized some of the very community members we endeavor to serve.
In response to this feedback, we are in the process of renaming the Women’s Health Clinic. While we envision the services provided in this clinic to remain unchanged, we believe that a clinic with a more inclusive name will make these services more accessible to all community members who need them, regardless of gender identity.
Last month, UHS consulted with 2 groups of campus partners to solicit their input on the future name of the clinic: student and staff leaders at the Stonewall Center (UMass' LGBTQIA+ resource center), and student members and staff advisors of the Student Wellbeing Advisory Board. We then developed the Women's Health Clinic Renaming Survey and made it available to UHS patients.
With over 100 survey responses so far, the level of community support for a more inclusive clinic is clear. 94% of respondents prefer a new name over the name “Women’s Health Clinic.” 86% of respondents have indicated that all patients, regardless of gender identity, should have the option to be seen in the re-named Women’s Health Clinic.
Comments we have received via the survey include:
- “I was uncomfortable having to go to the ‘women's’ health clinic as a trans man. This change will be beneficial to many people.”
- “As the current name stands, it has been a barrier to me going there when I had a cyst burst.”
- “If all gender identities are welcome in the clinic I do not think that anyone would abuse this. I believe people will come to the clinic to receive treatment for genuine health concerns/needs.”
- “I think a gender inclusive name for the clinic is a great step forward!”
- “Moving toward gender inclusivity is a good move!”
We are now opening our Women’s Health Clinic Renaming Survey to the entire UMass community. At a time when LGBTQI+ rights are coming under attack and being stripped away across the country, we invite you to add your voice to the conversation about the importance of gender-inclusive, gender-affirming health care.
Take the Survey: https://forms.office.com/r/PZmu1ERzYf
(Responses are anonymous; UMass login required)