Not just a clinic, the newly opened Queer Wellness Clinic in Illovo is set to break new ground in providing holistic treatment and care for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+) community.
The centre is run by a group of specialists in an array of fields, ranging from psychiatry to fertility, with services specific to the urgent and rarely considered needs of those who don’t identify as straight and “cis-gendered”.
According to nephrologist and founder of the centre Dr Claudia Do Vale, mental health services are an important and urgent need for the queer community, because one of the most common pressures faced by the LBTQI+ community was the stress of coming out, especially to their families.
“We take on a very holistic approach to wellness for the LGBTQI+ community because they have needs that are often overlooked such as mental health, family planning, sexual and reproductive health, hormone treatment and fertility.”
All staff at the clinic, including specialists, have received training in LGBTQI+-specific cultural humility, to create a welcoming and assuring environment for their patients. It also caters for those with disabilities and non-English speakers.
The clinic will be one of the first to provide services specifically for the queer community and Do Val hoped they would be able to reach many people. One of the areas of focus was gender-affirming hormone treatment, which were particularly scarce services for trans men and women.
It was a fairly new service being offered in a few South African medical facilities. The clinic also advises patients on fertility. The centre provides an environment where patients can ask the tough and important questions about their lives and journey in a nonjudgmental environment.