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SU Hosts Inaugural Interprofessional Symposium on Transgender Care and Experience
Keynote Speaker Debb Dunn

SU Hosts Inaugural Interprofessional Symposium on Transgender Care and Experience

By  SU Public Relations

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University’s Center for Healthy Communities (CHC) and College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) recently brought SU community members, educators, medical professionals, social workers and allies together to continue the joint mission of fostering inclusivity, understanding and support for the transgender community. 

SU’s inaugural “Interprofessional Symposium on Transgender Care and Experience” interactive day of learning fostered conversations with keynote speaker and renowned medical professional in gender affirming care, Debb Dunn, PA-C, M.B.A. and vice chair of the Maryland LGBTQIA Commission, as well as educators, parents and members of the transgender community to share their lived experiences. 

“This conference concerns so much of what I care about and so much of what I’ve dedicated my career to,” said University System of Maryland (USM) Chancellor Jay A. Perman via a recorded welcome message. “Interprofessionalism, equity, cultural competency, compassionate and empathic care — what you’re doing today matters.” 

“Inclusion goes beyond acceptance; it involves active participation and a sense of belonging,” said SU President Carolyn Ringer Lepre. “Let us cultivate environments where transgender and gender-diverse individuals feel heard, valued and respected. By working together, we will create a future where transgender and gender-diverse individuals receive the care and support they deserve, and where our society thrives on the principles of equality and compassion.”

Objectives of the symposium included understanding the development of a team-based approach to improve delivery of trauma informed, equitable and evidence-based integrated care; identifying specific need-, experience- and evidence-based interventions for transgender and gender-diverse individuals from an interprofessional lens; and next steps on how to best improve interprofessional care for the local transgender and gender-diverse community. 

The symposium and related project study were made possible by the CHHS Interprofessional Education (IPE) Fellowship granted to Dr. Alison Sutton-Ryan, clinical assistant professor of social work and project lead of the SU Transgender Interprofessional Care Team (TICT). 

The fellowship provides opportunities for CHHS faculty and staff to expand their IPE knowledge and skills, with the goal of establishing IPE leaders with additional learning opportunities from academic and practice experts. 

TICT members include Drs. Dan Green, assistant professor of social work; Jeffrey Willey, associate professor of nursing; Michèle Schlehofer, professor of psychology; Kim Van Vulpen, associate professor of social work and CHHS IPE fellowship mentor; Kathy Carpenter Brown, Transliance founder; and M.S.W. student Dakota Linton.  

In addition to the keynote, Dunn accepted the Transliance Award on behalf of Maryland Governor Wes Moore, presented by Brown and Christina McBride of Salisbury Transliance, for his commitment to inclusivity as the first Governor to proclaim an International Transgender Day of Visibility in the state. 

Attendees engaged in an in-depth question-and-answer panel session moderated by Green, featuring Sutton-Ryan, Brown, Linton, SU senior Donovan Mendoza, and McBride.

Topics ranged from personal lived experiences or those of loved ones; discussions of limited medical care and hurdles within the Maryland healthcare system, especially on the Eastern Shore; and addressing stereotypes and labels in academic and professional settings.

SU’s TICT fellowship work included the Internal Review Board for Research on Human Subjects (IRB) approved study “Transformational Stories: Individuals experiences with interprofessional care on the MD/DE Eastern Shore.” Preliminary data illustrated the growing need in all aspects of gender affirming care including affordability, access, training and amount of health care providers. 

The day culminated with a vigil in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance for those whose lives have been lost due to anti-trans hate and violence and to those who have lost their lives to suicide. Dr. William Folger, professor of music, accompanied the vigil playing the Samuel R. Brown and William D. Church Carillon at SU’s Patricia R. Guerrieri Academic Commons, where the symposium was held.

A takeaway for attendees and call from panelists to SU students in the room who will one day become medical professionals, social workers and educators: Stay informed, normalize respectful but frequent conversations on these topics, continue to dismantle the use of labels and stereotypes, and become care providers and allies who listen first above all else. 

Additional event supporters and sponsors include CHHS’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) committee, Academic Affairs, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Charles R. and Martha N. Fulton School of Liberal Arts, the Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology, the Samuel W. and Marilyn C. Seidel School of Education, SU Libraries, the SU Counseling Center, the Worcester County Health Department’s Lower Shore Health Insurance Assistance Program and Heather Brooks. 

For more information please visit the CHC webpage

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