Last year, Bridgercare saw a huge increase (of 70%!!) for individuals scheduling for gender affirming services. The increased awareness and accessibility of these services would not have been possible without the support of the Pride Foundation and people like YOU. Recently, we were reminded of why your support of these services is so critically important in Montana.

In the spring of 2019, an individual named Mark* scheduled a gender affirming care appointment with our provider, Sue Dolan. Mark was interested in starting to transition hormonally and wanted to learn more about the process. Sue and Mark talked about their goals and hopes surrounding the transition and the temporary and permanent changes that would take place. At the end of the visit, Mark mentioned “my parents aren’t on board, but I haven’t given up on them yet.”

After Mark left, days and then months passed. This can be a challenging aspect of providing these services; sometimes, you get one visit with a person and they never return to the clinic. Perhaps they moved or found care outside our region… or maybe it is a different, worse reason. All we can do is hope that they’re happy, safe, and get the opportunity to live their fullest life.

One day, six months after their initial appointment, Mark’s name showed up on Sue’s schedule. It was an appointment to start hormone treatment. After six months of silence, Mark was moving forward. At the beginning of the appointment, Mark and Sue met one-on-one to discuss the series of regular shots they would be getting. After all their questions were answered, Sue let Mark know that if they had brought anyone with them, they were now allowed to join for the rest of the visit. Mark said they had indeed brought someone along. As Sue prepared the necessary supplies, a nurse accompanied Mark to the waiting room to bring back their guests.

Mark walked back into the room followed by their partner, then both of their parents, then their grandparents as well. There were seven people in the small exam room to celebrate the beginning of Mark’s transition! To the sound of loving cheers, Mark beamed from ear to ear as they sat down to receive their first injection.

Individuals like Mark experience far too many barriers throughout their lives. We are grateful to champions in our community for taking away the obstacles in cost and access, and making sure these crucial services are available to everyone in our community.

*Names have been changed to protect patient privacy