New UChicago Medicine clinic helps transgender patients find doctors

Dr. Romero and Dr. Fisher

Dr. Romero and Dr. Fisher

Not all doctors understand the needs of transgender patients. That’s why the University of Chicago Medicine launched a unique new service: Transgender Clinic for Affirmation and Reproductive Equity (CARE).

The clinic connects transgender and gender-diverse patients with trans-friendly doctors in different fields of medicine, such as surgery or endocrinology.

Rather than make an appointment and hope the doctor is familiar and comfortable with their gender identity, a patient can find comfort knowing the doctor has experience working with transgender people and is committed to providing them excellent care regardless of their identity.

Transgender CARE, launched in May 2021, is run by obstetrician-gynecologists Iris Romero, MD, and Andrew Fisher, MD, at UChicago Medicine's main campus on the city's South Side. Clinic visits are covered by insurance.

The clinic addresses healthcare disparities that transgender patients often face by offering them a source for respectful, inclusive and high-quality medical care. It’s also a place where they can safely talk about different medical options available to them — such as hormone therapies, gender affirmation surgeries or starting their own families — and then be referred to a doctor who is also committed to transgender care and would be a good match for their personal needs.

Transgender CARE also provides a dedicated patient representative who serves as a point-of-contact for any appointment issues or follow-up questions.

So far, the top services requested in the clinic are:

  • Gender-affirming hysterectomy
  • Family-building consultations
  • Hormone therapy

The clinic's existence comes as welcome news to T.R., a 24-year-old transgender patient who asked to be identified only by his initials.

T.R. said there’s a certain comfort level to having doctors like Romero and Fisher who allow him to talk openly about his concerns and wishes. These doctors also can speak with authority about what other transgender patients have done, what the latest research data shows, and what new procedures or therapies are available.

Best of all, it’s very personal and private.

“I want somebody who understands the transgender aspect of healthcare. A transgender patient is a very different type of patient and most doctors don’t take account of that. It’s not that they’re transphobic, but they don’t have the knowledge to care for trans people,” T.R. said. “I’m not a female. My needs are different than a cis-female coming in for problems.”

UChicago Medicine has long been recognized for its LGBTQ+ inclusion. The hospital has been named an LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index every year since 2014.

UChicago Medicine is also part of the nationwide “We Ask Because We Care” campaign, which educates staff about the importance of collecting and correctly using information about a patient’s race, ethnicity, preferred language, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Fisher said they hope the clinic will serve as a model on how hospital systems nationwide can better serve transgender patients.

“The outcomes for these patients are better when we can provide them with a safe space that’s trans-friendly where they can talk openly,” Fisher said.

Transgender CARE is starting to see a steady increase in patients and is in the process of expanding its partnerships and doctor lists.

T.R. plans to continue to use Transgender CARE now that he trusts the UChicago Medicine staff after having a positive experience with his gender-affirming hysterectomy performed by Romero in September 2021.

“It’s nice to know these resources are there,” T.R. said. “Even if I don’t need them at this moment, now I know where I can go.”

Healthcare Equality Index 2020

Andrew Fisher, MD

Andrew Fisher, MD

Andrew Fisher, MD, specializes in obstetric and gynecologic medicine and treats a wide range of conditions affecting women, including abnormal uterine bleeding, opioid use disorder in pregnancy, hormone therapy for gender affirming transgender patients and more.

View Dr. Fisher's physician bio
Iris Romero, MD, MS

Iris Romero, MD, MS

Iris Romero, MD, MS, is a highly skilled obstetrician and gynecologist with special expertise in cancer prevention. Her clinical practice includes individuals with a family history of gynecologic or breast cancer and patients with genetic mutations that predispose to gynecologic cancers, such as BRCA mutations and others.

View Dr. Romero's physician bio