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ARCH and Gender Affirm Guelph merge to increase trans care, extend services to youth

'The benefit is not only is there increased care, but increased services for them here,' says clinical services manager
20200925 Dr. Ashifa Jiwa AD
Dr. Ashifa Jiwa in the ARCH clinic. Ariel Deutschmann/GuelphToday file photo

ARCH is growing, and with that growth, comes more programming and services for trans patients.

Starting this fall, HIV/AIDS Resources and Community Health (ARCH) will be offering support groups for trans youth ages 14 to 18 and their parents. Each group will consist of 10 to 12 members who will meet with an educated facilitator.

“We want to be able to offer this continually,” said Deanne Clatworthy about the groups, “Hopefully we’ll be able to offer this a couple of times a year ongoing, while the need is still there.”

Clatworthy, a registered nurse and manager of clinical services for ARCH, said the support groups aim to round out care for these folks, especially for parents.

“There’s often lots of questions that they have, and just feeling like there is a group, where they can go meet other parents of children who are also transgender where they can reach out and find other networks and friendships and areas of support,” said Clatworthy.

Currently, these groups are exclusive to ARCH patients, but Clatworthy said ARCH hopes to open future support groups for community members, if they are able to secure some additional funding.

“We do want to be that support for a lot of folks in our community, but unfortunately with no dollars, that makes it very difficult,” said Clatworthy.

The support groups are part of a recent decision by ARCH to begin taking on trans patients ages 14 and older, starting next month.

It comes after Gender Affirm Guelph and ARCH amalgamated in June to increase current capacity and access to trans healthcare in the region, including nursing and dietician services, and new services for trans youth. 

“It’s pretty exciting to have some programming for trans youth, because there isn’t anything in our city,” said Clatworthy, “It’s really exciting for the community and it’s really exciting for us.”

Along with support groups and other trans youth services, ARCH will offer puberty blockers.

“At 14, a lot of them are not able to go on hormonal therapy at that age, so this is a way we can help them without putting them on hormones," said Clatworthy.

Trans youth patients will be seen by Dr. Ashifa Jiwa, a family and emergency physician. In an email, Jiwa said that the amalgamated services will make the service more accessible to the community.

“We have had a number of inquiries from both parents and youth who are looking for adolescent trans care. Currently the wait times at Sick Kids is 1-2 years.  There is one provider in KW who sees youth but who also has a 1-year wait list. So essentially meeting community need was the motivator."

Jiwa adds Gender Affirm Guelph and ARCH aim to improve access to care for trans youth and improve family relations within those families, and in the longterm, have healthier, happier and more functional family units within the community. 

Prior to amalgamation, Clatworthy explains ARCH has been on a patient freeze for over two years due to demand. Currently, ARCH serves over 200 patients while Gender Affirm Guelph has over 150.

“We’ve snuck a few patients in here and there where we could ... but for the most part, we’ve been closed to new patients, so this is exciting to us, having more community access care,” said Clatworthy.

“The benefit is not only is there increased care, but increased services for them here,” said Clatworthy, mentioning ARCH offers injections, post surgery care, name changes

To book an appointment with ARCH, residents can either book an appointment through a physician’s referral or a self-referral. A physician referral can be faxed to ARCH at 519-780-5060, while a self-referral can be emailed to admin@archguelph.ca or by phone at 519-780-5298.



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Ariel Deutschmann

About the Author: Ariel Deutschmann

Ariel Deutschmann is a feature writer and reporter who covers community events, businesses, social initiatives, human interest stories and more involving Guelph and Wellington County
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