Tom Waddell Health Center’s “Transgender Tuesdays” began in November 1993. A group of concerned health care professionals advocated for a specialized gender clinic in response to the disproportionately high rates of HIV/AIDS impacting transgender (TG) women in San Francisco.
It was known that trans-identified people typically had negative experiences seeking healthcare, if they could access it at all. This left many in the TG community to resort to black market hormones or relying on providers who didn’t do adequate medical follow up care. In order to remove the barriers that patients experienced in traditional gender clinics, such as lengthy evaluations by psychologists, the TG clinic created protocols based on the concept of harm reduction. This afforded patients a safe means of accessing the hormones that many of them sought. At the same time, it created an opportunity for providers to establish a trusting partnership with our patients, to talk about how to reduce STD risk, including HIV infection and to consider making other positive behavioral changes.
Initially, the Clinic served mostly Male to Female TG sex workers living in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Over time, the clinic patient population has changed, reflecting changes in society and due to the lack of services available in other parts of the country. We also work with a significant number of international patients in support of their pursuit of political asylum, as we have seen the power of legitimacy in the US and the positive effects on health outcomes.
At TG Clinic, we continue to strive to provide excellent medical care and psychosocial support to our patients. We believe in listening to our patients and determining their medical care based on each individual’s goals for themselves.