“Katrina Hanson noticed this too when she enrolled at AIMC in 2016. “I’d have trans patients who wouldn’t feel comfortable telling us important medical information because they were worried about how practitioners would react,” Hanson said.
Queer herself, Hanson thought this was unacceptable and started immediately advocating for a more inclusive environment. Within the first few months, she pushed the school leadership to install a gender-neutral bathroom and expand the school’s non-discrimination policy.
There were other queer students who came before her and wanted similar changes, but Hanson “knew how to communicate and educate,” Bliss said. Soon Bliss and Hanson teamed up to tackle the school’s curriculum. They changed the mandatory gynecology course to include trans-specific material and renamed it “Reproductive and Sexual Health.” …
When Hanson graduated and opened Prism Acupuncture in 2016 in Oakland, she became the first acupuncturist in the Bay Area to offer home visits to people recovering from gender-affirming surgeries such as hysterectomies or mastectomies. “Whenever people get home, I’m going there almost every day. Because there can be a lot of swelling and pain, constipation, getting acupuncture right away can really reduce all of that and prevent scar tissue from forming,” Hanson said.
Hanson also uses acupuncture to help trans people who are just beginning to take external estrogen or testosterone and want to regulate their hormones, which are essential for sleep and digestion. Acupuncturists aim to mediate the shift by stimulating the person’s endocrine system, aiding the body’s production of its own hormones. …
Over the past few months, Baird, Hanson and Bliss have begun a quiet campaign to integrate queer and trans-specific material into the curriculum of local alternative medicine schools. To date, they’ve co-taught a gender competency class to four Bay Area acupuncture schools, one chiropractic school, and one herbalism school. Hanson recently was hired at the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences in Oakland to teach the sexual and reproductive course she developed with Bliss.
For Hanson, it can feel like a long, slow process. “In order to make a significant shift, with a school clinic, you have to get everyone on board—the front desk staff, the admissions staff, the faculty, and the clinic supervisors, it can be challenging to get that,” Hanson said.
The biggest challenge for Hanson is staying financially afloat while trying to make her services accessible to the queer community. “I want to be able to offer free care to everyone,” Hanson said, “but that’s just not how it is when you have your own practice.””