Gender Affirming Care in Pittsburgh

Posted on: March 8, 2024Pittsburgh
  1. AmeriCorps Member Freya Rolfs of NHC Pittsburgh at a UPMC tabling event.

My name is Freya Rolfs, and I serve at the Center of Care for Infectious Disease (which specializes in HIV prevention/treatment) as a patient navigator. I was lucky enough to join the clinic right when they received a grant approving funds for Gender Affirming Care trainings. My supervisor overheard me talking about the subject with a co-worker and asked if I wanted to be involved, and I immediately said yes. This is a topic I’ve been interested in and involved with in for the past two years at a sports medicine clinic at my high school. Being able to continue this work at my host site was an amazing opportunity!

I have been able to interact with patients and ask LGBTQ+ community members questions such as: “what do you want from your providers” and “what needs to stop happening to make you more comfortable?” I have also been able to offer my own input as a non-binary person. I gave a presentation to the clinic about the importance of Gender Affirming Care, how to perform it, and easy concrete steps to be more inclusive. This includes wearing pronoun badges, introducing yourself with your pronouns, and displaying inclusive imagery in the office/clinic.

I knew the importance of Gender Affirming Care well before being my involvement with this project, but I didn’t have the experience (other than my own lived experience) to back it up. I also didn’t understand how important training for this subject was until I started developing trainings myself.

Everyone that I have worked with has wanted to help their patients in any way that they can. However, when it came to the topic of Gender Affirming Care, they didn’t know what to do because of lack of education and training in the past. This wasn’t their fault at all- there are very few courses (and depending on the school there might be none at all) on this topic. There are also limited trainings available, which you have to know about and pay to join, and that can be a barrier for people/organizations.

One of the groups I was able to talk to while developing the training was the Pittsburgh chapter of PFLAG, a nationwide organization that is dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and those who love them. I was able to attend one of their sessions with a provider from my host site. It was invaluable to hear first-hand what people in LGBTQ+ community needed from their providers, both with respect to Pittsburgh communities and the United States as a whole. On a personal level, it was also affirming to connect with people in the LGBTQ+ community and hear that we were having a similar experiences.

Even though the topic of Gender Affirming Care is a large topic and presently has limited resources, it is absolutely vital that people who work in healthcare (regardless of their position) receive training and education on this topic. I’m so thankful for the opportunity that I’ve had during my AmeriCorps/NHC service to both learn about and inform others about the importance of Gender Affirming Care.

About the Author:


Member Position: Mileu Manager / Patient Engagement

Where are you from? 

Wenatchee, Washington

Host Site