Researcher looking for gender diverse Kamloops residents for study

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KAMLOOPS - A doctor in Kamloops is looking to speak with members of the transgender community about their experience with healthcare.

Lisa Harvey, a 26-year-old resident physician, is working on a research project through UBC as part of her education. She's focussing on the barriers people who identify as transgender face when using health services in Kamloops.

“Gender diverse individuals are generally fairly marginalized,” she says. “I figured it would be a nice opportunity to give people a voice.”

The project was given the go ahead last week. She’s already spoken to two individuals, but is hoping to speak to at least four more before mid-December.

“I’m doing interviews with people hearing their story, whatever they’re comfortable sharing,” she says. "As many as want to participate would be fantastic."

By her estimate there should be between 250 and 500 people transgender individuals in Kamloops, though there are no clear statistics to confirm the number. She says when she speaks to other physicians they say they don’t see many people who identify themselves as transgender.

“I think in Kamloops it tends to be a bit underground. I think people underestimate how many trans people are here,” she says. “Hypothetically it’s quite a bit larger than people expect.”

One of the barriers people who are transgender face is public acceptance, which Harvey says may be the case in Kamloops.

“Kamloops doesn’t necessarily have the most open culture,” she says. “People might not be comfortable to share that with the public at large.”

While the project is still in its early stages, Harvey says she hopes it can lead to something more. Right now, though, she’s looking to hear from the people in the community.

“It’s hard for me to really generalize or speak for people, so I think it will be really interesting to listen,” she says. “Hopefully we can use that information to give people voice.”

Once she’s done her residency Harvey, who’s originally from Newfoundland, says she is planning to stay in Kamloops.

— This story was updated at 11:00 a.m., on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 to remove Harvey's contact information.

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