By Kathy Walsh
DENVER (CBS4) – There’s a new effort to improve health care for members of the LGBTQ community. A clinic opened just days ago at the University of Colorado Hospital to provide mental health services.
It’s a way to meet the needs of patients who don’t fit the mold.
“I probably started transitioning at the end of 2014,” Owen Ziegler told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
Owen used to go by Emma. He came out as a lesbian in college. But after years of struggling with his identity, he found the courage to change.
“Which really started out just kind of going by a different name in my house and not coming out at work. So then, I was sort of two people for a while,” said Ziegler.
Now, Ziegler’s gender transition is underway.
“I identify as a non-binary person which means not male or female. I also identify as queer,” explained Ziegler.
But he says not “fitting in” has made health care a challenge.
“There are so many of us that really are suffering whether it be mental issues or physical issues and we don’t know where to go,” Ziegler said.
“I am an openly gay man with two openly gay children,” said Dr. Robert Davies, Ziegler’s psychiatrist.
And he is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry with the University of Colorado School of Medicine and understands why LGBTQ individuals avoid health care.
“Out of fear how they’ll be treated, out of fear of clinicians not understanding what their specific issues are,” Davies explained.
So Davies started the UCHealth LGBTQ Clinic at the University of Colorado Hospital.
“You will be treated with respect and acceptance and affirmation,” he said.
The clinic handles mental health, but Davies plans to create a network of LGBTQ-competent medical providers.
For Ziegler, having doctors who understand would be awesome.
To find out more about the LGBTQ clinic call 303-724-1000.