Patrick Schmitz: Bert Nash will continue to support gender-affirming care (Column)

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Note: The Lawrence Times runs opinion columns and letters to the Times written by community members with varying perspectives on local issues. These pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Times staff.

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Residents of Douglas County, 

On behalf of the Bert Nash Center, I wish to express and affirm our support for gender-affirming care within our community. As a long-standing organization deeply committed to promoting mental health and well-being for all individuals, we believe it is essential to affirm and support the diverse identities and experiences of every member of our community, including those who are transgender and gender diverse. 

Gender-affirming care encompasses a range of medical, psychological, and social services that affirm an individual’s gender identity and expression. This care is crucial for the health, happiness, and overall well-being of transgender and gender diverse individuals. It includes access to hormone therapy, gender-affirming surgeries, mental health support, and other essential services that help individuals align their physical bodies with their gender identity. 

It is essential to recognize that gender identity is a fundamental aspect of who we are as individuals and is not determined by our biological sex assigned at birth. Transgender and gender diverse individuals deserve the same rights, dignity, and access to health care as anyone else. Unfortunately, these individuals often face discrimination, stigma, and barriers to accessing gender-affirming care, which can have profound negative effects on their mental health and quality of life. 

At the Bert Nash Center, we believe in providing compassionate and affirming care to all individuals, embracing their gender identity or expression. We are committed to creating a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment where everyone feels respected, valued, and supported. Our team of highly trained professionals is dedicated to providing comprehensive gender-affirming services that address the unique needs and concerns of transgender and gender diverse individuals. 

We also recognize the importance of education and advocacy in promoting understanding, acceptance, and equity for transgender and gender diverse individuals. By raising awareness, challenging stigma, and advocating for policies that protect the rights of transgender and gender diverse individuals, we can create a more inclusive and equitable society for all. 

I urge the residents of Douglas County to join us in supporting gender-affirming care and standing in solidarity with transgender and gender diverse individuals in our community. Together, we can create a community where everyone feels empowered to live authentically and pursue their dreams without fear of discrimination or prejudice. 

Thank you for your support and commitment to creating a more inclusive and affirming community for all. 

In inclusivity, 

Patrick Schmitz (he/him), CEO, Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center

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