Social distancing has redefined the way we approach daily life, work, community, and care. As a society, we are finding new ways to uphold our values, learn, and connect. This year, with New York’s Pride March reformatted to a virtual gathering for the first time in its half-century history, we have the opportunity to reflect more critically on what Pride means in the world as it exists today, particularly within the reproductive health community.
While there are ways in which the growth of telehealth has removed accessibility barriers for many medically underserved folks seeking necessary care, COVID-19 has amplified the inequity in care for Black and Brown patients, which has already persisted for centuries. The inherent biases in our systems and the individuals who operate within them disproportionately affect People of Color, as they do LGBTQ folks, and particularly those who are not cis-gendered. As ever, reflecting on the intersectionality of injustice is a key part of Pride, even as we celebrate the patient-centeredness of treatment for many transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary folks during the pandemic.
We spoke with Dr. Natalie Hinchcliffe, MD, Associate Medical Director for Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic and a provider of gender-affirming care, who says the transition to treating the majority of her patients in a virtual setting has been rather seamless.
“Telehealth provides a greater insight into patients’ lives because you get a view into their home environment,” she says, “it helps you relate a little bit more to the patient.” Dr. Hinchcliffe reflects that it feels refreshing to wonder how best to provide care in this new format, rather than whether or not one is able to provide it at all.
Nevertheless, as we take stock of the ways trans and GNC patients can now receive their essential treatment without the added burden of scheduling, transportation, and additional health risk, we must also own our responsibility as a movement of advocates, clinicians, and allies to call for the same equity for all people seeking comprehensive reproductive health care– many of whom have experienced prolonged neglect and mistreatment at the hands of the legal medical systems due to race, class, and other identifiers. In this way, to engage with Pride in 2020 requires that we demand more, rather than accept the steps we have taken so far.
Built upon the activism of queer People of Color, Pride holds different meanings throughout our culture, to members of the LGBTQ community as well as intersectional allies who hold the understanding that for one group to achieve justice, we must see that justice upheld for everyone. As we at RHAP continue to adapt to a working life marked by virtual community and telemedicine, we strive to celebrate the steps toward equity in health care brought on by telehealth, while understanding there will always be further to go in working toward an anti-racist and truly equal system.