Training taking place in Thunder Bay this week will teach doctors and nurses across the region how to better serve transgender patients.

The seminar, which is hosted by the NorWest Community Health Centre, is open to health care providers throughout northern Ontario via telemedicine.

The director of clinical services with the centre said she's very happy with the number of people who have signed up to learn.  

"I have to admit I'm so impressed, and I'm just really excited," Juanita Lawson said.

The sessions are being led by the organization Rainbow Health Ontario.

Juanita Lawson

Juanita Lawson, the director of clinical services at the NorWest Community Health Centres, says they want more doctors and clinics to be able to access this training so that there are more points for trans patients to access. (Amy Hadley)

Lawson noted the training will give more transgender patients the option to access care in their own communities.

She also said the training is an opportunity for staff at the NorWest Community Health Centre, which has a focus on LGBT care, to update training that was first delivered a few years ago.

But it will be the first time that the training is being offered to other doctors and nurses in Thunder Bay, and throughout the region. Some medical and nursing students are also taking part.

Lawson says NorWest sees a lot of demand from transgender patients from smaller communities.

Healthcare workers will learn things such as how to provide support to transgender patients who are transitioning, and how to prescribe hormones.

She said this is very important because, if more doctors and other healthcare workers are trained, then there will be more places where transgender people can go for support.

"It's another access point for individuals who may already be experiencing difficulty in terms of seeking out support. It allows them to go in their community and receive that care. So that's one really, really good thing that we're pleased about."

Lawson said the next goal for the NorWest Community Health Centre will be to bring Rainbow Health Ontario back to do training specifically for counsellors, therapists, and mental health workers who work with transgender people.