Kingston transgender health clinic expanding

A clinic for transgender people in Kingston, Ont., is expanding in the hopes of serving more patients.

Founder hopes to enlist next generation of doctors to treat trans patients

Before she opened her clinic in Kingston, Ont., some transgender patients were travelling long distances for specific services, Dr. Ashley Waddington said. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

A clinic for transgender people in Kingston, Ont., is expanding in the hopes of serving more patients.

Dr. Ashley Waddington, a gynecologist, started the clinic in July 2017 after noticing an increasing number of patients seeking menstrual suppression therapy. What began as a one-day-a-week clinic soon expanded, and will grow again later this fall.

Waddington said she was surprised by the demand. 

"The referrals just started to pour in. It was much more demand than I ever expected there to be," she said. 

Waddington said the expanded the clinic when the wait list reached 150 patients.

"At one point it was over a year, and we just couldn't get to them fast enough," she said. 

Lack of options

She said before she opened the clinic, transgender patients seeking certain services had to travel long distances.

"We had patients who had been going to Ottawa, Toronto, we had a patient seeing someone west of London," she said.

The clinic offers hormone treatments and care before and after gender-affirming surgeries, as well as mental health support to patients and their families. 

"Even families who are very supportive sometimes need a little support, because it is a big change to go through if your child or your sister or your mother is going through a change," Waddington said.

Education needed

She said many physicians have gone through training and years of medical practice without encountering transgender patients. 

The newly expanded clinic will be at Queen's University, where Waddington hopes to enlist medical students so the next generation of doctors will have the knowledge they need to treat them.

"One of the goals of our clinic is to be a source for education," she said. "One of our goals is to actually almost put ourselves out of business.... Eventually, there won't be a need to have a specialized clinic."

with files from CBC's Ontario Morning