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Winter 2017 Newsletter

  Happy New Year from Devon MacFarlane, Director, Rainbow Health Ontario

Dear friends and community members,

Happy New Year from all of us at Rainbow Health Ontario (RHO).

We’re excited to begin this year with four new team members who’ve joined us since our last newsletter. Welcome to our new colleagues: Sarah Malik, Education and Training Coordinator, Colleen Westendorf, Communications Coordinator, and Navi Bopari, Project Manager.  

We’re beginning 2017 feeling inspired by the momentum of our last quarter in 2016. Notably, we launched the Trans Primary Care Guide, an online, interactive resource for primary care providers about trans health needs. Additionally, we delivered over 45 training sessions, together reaching over 1700 student and service provider participants. These trainings are a big step forward for increasing Ontario health and social service providers’ capacity to feel confident in respectfully and competently caring for their LGBTQ clients.   

This year we’ll be continuing our work to promote the health of LGBTQ Ontarians with trainings, key partnerships, and ongoing support for research networks dedicated to LGBTQ health.

Please read on for updates about the Trans Health Expansion project, an invitation to participate in the Survey of Trans Canadians’ Experiences with Gender-Affirming Surgery, and a save-the-date for the 2018 Rainbow Health Ontario Conference, along with other news about the coming year. 

Devon MacFarlane, Director, Rainbow Health Ontario

Update on the Trans Health Expansion 

Last fall, Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, announced changes to regulations on access to transition-related surgeries. Soon after, Sherbourne Health Centre–including Rainbow Health Ontario, which is Sherbourne’s only provincial program–formed a partnership with Women’s College Hospital and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, called the Trans Health Expansion (THEx). THEx was awarded $2M in new funding to improve access to surgery-related health care for trans people. 

In the time the THEx has been active, they have so far formed an implementation working group has to guide and plan the work overall, and they've hired a project manager to support this work. They've also developed a curriculum for Ontario healthcare providers, to support them in feeling more confident when seeing clients about surgery planning—including completing the new process for making transition-related surgery referrals.  

Additionally, THEx is working with a team from the University of British Columbia’s Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre (SARAVYC) to promote a national survey (detailed below) about trans people’s experience in assessments, referrals, and transition-related surgeries. An analysis of the Ontario data will inform the next stages of our work. 

Rainbow Health Ontario is looking forward to continuing the THEx partnership, and we’re all eager to keep you updated on our progress. 


Survey of Trans Canadians' Experiences with Gender-Affirming Surgery

The Survey of Trans Canadians' Experiences with Gender-Affirming Surgery is a completely anonymous online survey for adults who have had a readiness assessment or gender affirming surgery(ies) in the last 5 years.  

The survey may take up to one hour (60 minutes) to complete. Questions ask about experiences with gender-affirming readiness assessment as well as surgeries, if relevant. This includes some questions about 
experience of waiting for assessment(s) or surgery(ies), interactions with health care providers, and the resources and supports available. Participants can choose not to answer any question, or stop the survey at any time. The results will be used to improve existing systems of care.

The survey will be open until Spring 2017 (exact date TBD), and the Principal Investigator is Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc, who can be contacted at

The survey was developed by a team of health researchers from the University of British Columbia. They are working in partnership with the Trans Care BC program at the BC Provincial Health Services Authority, as well as with Rainbow Health Ontario, Sherbourne Health Centre, Women's College Hospital, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health to improve the delivery of services to trans people who are interested in accessing gender-affirming surgeries.

News from RHO's friends and partners 

Save the Date: the 2018 Rainbow Health Ontario Conference 

The Rainbow Health Ontario Conference, Canada’s only conference dedicated to LGBTQ health, will be held March 21-24, 2018, in Sudbury, Ontario.

More details to follow. We hope to see you there.

RHO in the News 

My doctor told me lesbians don’t need Pap smears Aug. 9, 2016  

“The morning of my most recent annual checkup, I showered, shaved and put on a fresh pair of underwear. At 22, I anticipated that the family doctor I’ve had since puberty would be giving me a Pap smear for the first time, and I wanted to feel comfortable and prepared.”...

Health advocate hopes for new data after Trudeau names LGBT special adviser
Yahoo News Nov. 16, 2016

“Rainbow Health Ontario’s director is applauding the Trudeau government’s appointment of a special adviser on LGBT issues, saying he hopes the move will result in more research and data about LGBT health.”...

Copyright © 2017 Rainbow Health Ontario, All rights reserved.

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