Katie Spencer, PhD, assistant professor, is the new coordinator of Transgender Health Services at PHS. Spencer is eager to continue to bring the program in line with current best practices in transgender care, increase operational transparency, and deepen community collaborations.
Spencer believes that, "In recent years there has been a huge and welcomed shift in health care for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals. Across the nation and locally more physicians and mental health providers are being trained to provide quality care for transgender and gender nonconforming patients, which increases access for trans clients. Part of our role is to continue to engage in cutting-edge research, training, and clinical service to break down barriers to competent care for trans clients. We have also seen a ground swell in community organizations that provide support to individuals across the gender spectrum. It is an exciting time to be in transgender health care, with multiple opportunities for collaboration, capacity building, and expanding the framework of how we provide trans clients the best holistic health care."
Over the last month Spencer has started to systematically incorporate the recommendations from the revised Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People as well as science-based research on trans health into the operations of the Center for Sexual Health. This process includes updating staff and patient materials as well as clinical procedures. She is also meeting with community organizations, community health care providers, and colleagues in the region to discuss possible collaborations and partnerships. Spencer will be reviving a community advisory board to focus on the Transgender Health Services program. Spencer's longer-term goals include developing a patient peer mentor program, revamping the group therapy model, and creating a community support space for patients and families that would include a library or resource materials on health, legal, and social support issues.
Spencer believes in empowering patients to have more say in their own and their community's care, revising our model of care to reflect patient-centered, patient-informed, and collaborative models of care, consistent with feedback from trans health care advocates and research on best outcomes for patient care. Spencer said, "My goal is to build on our successes in developing innovative research and public policy in the area of transgender health and incorporate these principles into a strong and cohesive framework that supports all aspects of our work in clinical care, new research, and community advocacy."
In addition to her clinical work, Spencer works with multiple community organizations working to educate about LGBT healthcare issues and primarily transgender healthcare. She works with the Minnesota Trans Youth Support Network on the Community Hormone Access Project, partnering with community advocates and trans youth to develop community based hormone protocols for transgender care, in hopes to increase access to competent care and hormone provision for trans youth. She recently participated in the development of a theatre educational project for high schools on transgender youth issues. Spencer provides training, education, and consultation on sexual health and transgender issues, and has worked with the Family Tree Clinic, Face to Face Health and Counseling Services, Fairview Clinics, the University of North Dakota, and the Minneapolis Veterans Administration. Spencer often speaks about the intersections of LGBT rights and impact on wellbeing, and recently presented a First Friday Forum for the Minnesota Psychological Association on the psychological research on same sex marriage.
Spencer received her MA and PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She received her BA in women's studies and psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her internship was completed at the University of Illinois-Chicago Counseling Center, and she was a postdoctoral fellow at PHS. She has a strong interest social justice, and education and training of therapists and medical providers in sexual health and transgender health care competency. Her primary clinical practice is working with transgender and gender non-conforming, adolescents, and adults, women's sexual health, and LGBT sexual health and wellbeing. She co-facilitates several groups, including the gender exploration group for youth and their families, the women's sexual health group, and transgender adult interpersonal groups. She has experience working with compulsive sexual behavior and general sexual dysfunction concerns. Her research and clinical interests focus on cultural competency in working with LGB and transgender populations, LGBT sexual health, sex therapy with LGBT couples, trans youth, and feminist embodied approaches to sexual health.
Spencer became coordinator of Transgender Health Services in October 2012, when the former coordinator Walter Bockting, PhD, joined the Initiative for LGBT Health a new program at the New York Psychiatric Institute and the Columbia University.
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