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Kentucky’s anti-trans law won't impact most services provided by Bowling Green clinic for LBGTQ patients

Graves Gilbert Clinic

Bowling Green’s first LGBTQ health clinic opened its doors to new patients towards the beginning of 2023, only a month after the Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 150, which essentially bans gender-affirming care for transgender youth. It also restricts what bathrooms trans students can use and allows teachers to misgender them.

The new practice, that’s a part of the Graves Gilbert Clinic, offers gender affirming care, HIV prevention including PrEP prescriptions, and LGBTQ mental health treatments. It also offers traditional primary care for LGBTQ patients who’ve experienced discrimination from other healthcare providers.

Dr. Craig Losekamp, the clinic’s physician, began creating the framework for the LGBTQ clinic in October of 2022 when it became obvious to him that there was a demand for a space where members of the LGBTQ community could find friendly, safe, and competent medical care.

Since opening the clinic’s doors, Losekamp says they’ve had new patients daily, including people from Somerset, Elizabethtown, Paducah, and northern Tennessee. Losekamp said that so far, the feedback has been positive.

“We’ll have people who are basically in tears because they’re so grateful that there’s a provider who’s available who can take care of them,” he explained.

“I had one person who after they left, later on told me that they just sat in their car and cried for a while because they were so moved that they finally found a place they could be comfortable with. We make a big effort to try to meet them where they are from the get-go.”

Losekamp told WKU Public Radio that patients have been belittled or heard untenured comments towards them. He said that much of the practice is providing regular care.

“A lot of it is everyday kind of stuff like managing diabetes, dealing with asthma, and that kind of stuff. And certainly, very much hoping to prevent as much as possible any kind of transmission of HIV. There’s no reason why anybody should lack access to care that they catch a disease such as that. Trying to make PrEP, pre-exposure prophylaxis, as available to people. Getting them to understand how it works, educating them on their own personal health and safety. I think that’s a very important part of it,” he explained.

Sarah Shouse joined the clinic as a family nurse practitioner in February. Shouse is a part of the LGBTQ community, and she said she knows what it’s like to go into a doctor’s office and feel a bit uncomfortable.

“Not get bad care, but just know that they are looking at you differently. So, it’s nice to be a part of this here in Bowling Green. It’s something I never thought I’d get to do in this area of the state,” she said.

“You can’t put into words just the ability to have this clinic here and provide a safe space and accessible space for people to come and just get everyday care, you know? Aside from all the politics and everything, people just want to be taken care of.”

Losekamp testified to members of Kentucky’s House and Senate during the last legislative session, hoping to encourage lawmakers not to pass Senate Bill 150, which is scheduled to go into effect this summer. Losekamp says the legislation is a big intrusion on the personal lives of patients and parents.

“One of the remarkable things is most adolescents don’t even need any medication. They just need to be treated like human being and to have a comfortable, safe place to be. They don’t need to be on hormones or hormone blockers or anything like that. We are just trying to keep them healthy physically and mentally.”

Losekamp said he has patients who are considering moving to other states because of Senate Bill 150.

“And that’s not even adolescent people. These are people who are in their twenties and thirties. They feel that the climate here is so contrary to their well-being that they’re looking to move elsewhere,” he said.

“That’s a shame because these are people who are a part of the community and it’s a bit of a cultural drain on people and I suppose that might be part of the rational of the legislation. Erase a certain group of people, make them unwelcome, make them feel like they have to move away, and pity the poor person who can’t.”

Kentucky’s anti-trans bill won’t impact what Bowling Green’s LBGTQ clinic currently does for most of its patients, according to Losekamp and Shouse. However, there is a worry about future legislation. Missouri has made moves to ban transgender care for all age groups.

“The biggest concern going into the future is just what happens in the political climate. I can only do so much as a physician in the community,” Losekamp said.

“Unfortunately, if people don’t try their best to stand up for themselves, it’s quite obvious that there are going to be other people out there who trample their rights and their quality of life. I try to emphasize the importance to vote to people. Make sure that they make their voices heard because it affects them on a very personal individual level.”

Shouse says she encourages patients just to come to receive everyday healthcare and that people don’t have to feel like they need care for something extra.

“We are just emphasizing a safe, accessible space for people to come and feel comfortable in. You’re going to come here and you’re going to feel welcome and you’re going to feel at home hopefully,” She said. “We see time and time again where minority groups are targeted for political reasons, and this is no different. I always tell my patients change is coming, it’s slow, but it’s comes.”

The ACLU of Kentucky is challenging the state’s anti-trans law in court. The law is set to go into effect at the end of June.

The LGBTQ Clinic is accepting new patients. The direct line for the clinic is 270-746-5789.

Former student intern Alana Watson rejoined WKU Public Radio in August 2020 as the Ohio Valley ReSource economics reporter. She transitioned to the station's All Things Considered Host in July of 2020. Watson is a 2017 graduate of Western Kentucky University and has a B.A. in Broadcasting Journalism. She also has her M.A in Communications from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN. Watson is a Nashville native and has interned at WPLN-FM in Nashville. In 2019, she won a Tennessee AP Broadcaster & Editors Award for her sports feature on Belmont University's smallest point guard. While at WKU Public Radio she won Best College Radio Reporter in 2016 from the Kentucky Ap Broadcasters Association for her work on post-apartheid South Africa. Watson was previously at Wisconsin Public Radio as thier 2nd Century Fellow where she did general assignment and feature reporting in Milwaukee.
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