Planned Parenthood KS & Mid-MO to expand services to the LGBT community
By Sara Ritsch
Three vital areas of expansion have been introduced by the six Planned Parenthood health centers in Kansas and Mid-Missouri: Transgender care, menopausal care and PrEP HIV care. Despite its reputation, Planned Parenthood is known for its ability to provide safe, nonjudgmental and confidential care to its patients. Now, this guarantee is not only limited to the same familiar community.
To celebrate the expansion of their services, Kansas and Mid-Missouri Planned Parenthood (PPKM) is planning a “PinkOut” party in Kansas City on May 6.
Their interest in opening arms to the trans community and expanding their reach to more than just millennial cis-gender women has been a long time coming, but it is finally here.
When it comes to transgender care, cultural sensitivity is a main point of interest for the providers at Planned Parenthood.
“The biggest part is educating our staff, from the front office to the medical assistants to the clinicians, about cultural sensitivity in this area,” says PPKM’s President and CEO Laura McQuade.
“There will be a lot of cultural awareness training. This is a new area of care for Planned Parenthood; we don’t want to misstep. It’s an ongoing process to continue to educate and to make [transgender people] feel welcome.
“Our goal is for members of the transgender community to feel supported, with access to the amenities that make them feel comfortable when it may be a little different at other community health centers. We want them to feel they can access all services,” McQuade says. “That should be what the transgender community expects to receive.”
As for menopause, McQuade explains that Planned Parenthood intends to lengthen the lifespan of relationships with their patients. “We want to make older women comfortable when they come in, knowing that their needs will be met, even though [their needs] may be different.”
The introduction of PrEP and HIV care at these six health centers is also an extension of their efforts to diversify.
PrEP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is “a way for people who do not have HIV but who are at substantial risk of getting it to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill [Truvada] every day,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies show that PrEP is 92 percent effective if taken as required.
“An overwhelming majority of all people on the PrEP regimen are gay white men having sex with other men,” McQuade explains. “There is hugely limited access to both women and communities of color, regardless of gender...so we created our own materials for the regimen. No gender, no race or ethnicity restrictions. We open PrEP to a much larger, appropriate community.
“HIV is still a sensitive issue. Really educating patients on what PrEP is and if it’s right for you is a major part of the experience. We want to work with people on destigmatizing getting tested. We are working with patients to get them more comfortable, to learn more about their relationships and lifestyles, to figure out whether this is a good option for them. Counseling is also part of the treatment.”
They are also rebuilding their staff to mirror their communities. “When people come into a health center, they want to feel like they are reflected somehow. There must be diversity, not only with gender, but with age and race.”
The upcoming event, PinkOut, is to call attention to and support the expansion of these three key programs, while celebrating all services Planned Parenthood provides. “Don’t screw with us, Don’t screw without us,” is PinkOut’s slogan, further emphasizing the need for sexual and reproductive care.
“This event is about mobilizing much more of what we like to call the silent majority of supporters. It’s about connecting a lot of people that fundamentally believe in the services that Planned Parenthood provides and the mission behind the services – what’s at risk, what’s at stake right now – and what you can do to improve the situation,” McQuade says.
There will be food, an open bar, goody bags and live music. The night will be kicked off with a funny duo called Victor & Penny in a mixture of swing and ragtime; the opener will be a blues group called Shawn Holt and the Teardrops; the headliner will be Katy Guillen and the Girls, a blues-rock band; and the closing band is yet to be determined at time of press.
“This I believe in – everyone has a right to accessible care. This will be a fun event to energize the community for the cause,” McQuade says.
The VIP Dinner begins at 6 p.m. on May 6 and single ticket admission begins at 8. It will be located in the Historic Firestone Building in Downtown Kansas City, MO. To buy tickets now, visit their event website at www.partyforpp.org.
The Gayly – May 4, 2016 @ 2:15 p.m.