Project AFFIRM presents the 2019 Provider Awards
Project AFFIRM presented its 2019 Provider Awards on April 13, 2019, at the National Transgender Health Summit (NTHS) in Oakland, California. This biennial conference attracts over 900 attendees including medical educators, physicians, behavioral health providers, researchers, allied health professionals, department health and government officials as well as members, leaders and advocates of the trans community.
We worked in partnership with our SF Bay Area community advisory board members to nominate and select two providers from the local community for special recognition of their longstanding work supporting the health and well-being of local trans and gender non-conforming individuals.
Karen Aguilar was the recipient of the 2019 Education and Advocacy Award.
Karen Aguilar is the lead patient navigator at San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Gender Health SF, the first and only program that directly serves poor and undocumented adults seeking gender-related procedures in the country. Gender Health SF navigates patients through gender surgeries and procedures, and helps connects them to resources in order to help members of the transsexual, transgender and gender non-conforming community achieve their dreams. As a bilingual speaker, Karen works with all of the Spanish speaking gender patients at Gender Health SF, which account for nearly half of the entire program. Karen’s clients face myriad barriers to accessing gender affirming care, including navigating complex insurance and medical protocols, overcoming language barriers, dealing with uninformed providers, poverty and homelessness, and a range of psychosocial issues related to discrimination and stigma. Karen has gone above and beyond for her patients and her community, fighting daily to get her patients’ access to the best care available.
In 2014, Karen herself was a patient of the Gender Health SF program. After her surgeries, she was invited to speak about her experiences to help others in the program, and then, following her talks, she was asked to be a permanent member of the staff. Karen’s first-hand experience helps her to explain the multi-level processes and the rollercoaster of emotions that her patients will go through during their transitions.
Tố Như (Lotus) Đào was the recipient of the 2019 Health Provider of the Year Award:
Lotus is the senior behavioral health clinician with Gender Health SF of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Lotus offers pre-surgical assessments and peer navigation for medical transition, specializing in adults with significant mental health needs. Lotus is involved in developing best clinical practice standards for treating gender dysphoria and advocating for increased Medi-Cal access to gender-related procedures. Lotus also founded and continues to organize with Bloom: Transgender Community Healing Project, a peer and volunteer-based organization working to promote a culture of wellness in trans and non-binary communities. Bloom organizes peer-to-peer holistic health-focused events and offers professional consultation.