Dr. Stéphanie Madill, University of Saskatchewan
Can you describe your area of research and how it is helping address a health-related issue in Saskatchewan?
Our research focusses on helping people who are trans and gender diverse in Saskatchewan to access healthcare. This is happening through piloting two peer healthcare navigators who provide information, assistance with documentation changes (e.g., legal name and gender marker) and recommend healthcare providers who are knowledgeable about the healthcare needs of people who are trans and gender diverse and who are culturally safe. As well, the navigators support healthcare providers through connecting them to other providers with more knowledge and experience caring for people who are trans and gender diverse, and through tailored education sessions.
In addition, an offshoot project has reviewed the literature and the USask undergraduate medical education curriculum to provide evidence-based advice on systematically including the concerns of people who are sexually and gender diverse in the curriculum, so that all medical graduates from USask will have a grounding in providing safe and appropriate healthcare to people who are sexually and gender diverse.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?
Our research team is utterly fabulous. I have only superlatives for describing how wonderful it is to work with such a diverse and committed group of people. The group is so supportive of one another, willing to take on the work required and so generous in taking over for each other when someone needs to step back to take care of themselves and their other commitments. The team is nearly a third people who are trans and gender diverse, including researchers and decision makers, and includes representatives from the two largest 2SLGBTQ+ community-based organizations in the province, which keeps our discussions and decisions grounded in the needs of the community.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
The most challenging aspect of the work is trying to overcome systemic barriers to including community representatives equitably in the research team. Things like library resources are not able to be shared with community researchers because of copyright restrictions and the university’s online document storage can be difficult to access for those who are not either students or employees of the university.
How did you first become interested in this area of research? What inspires you to do the work that you do?
I have a very strong commitment to social justice that was nurtured by my faith and my family. I am thrilled, and humbled, to be able to do research that makes an immediate difference in individuals’ lives. I also identify as lesbian and queer, so through this work I am able to improve the lives of people in my community.
Where is your research headed in the next five years?
I think that the next steps need to be improving capacity among healthcare providers of all types to provide appropriate and culturally safe healthcare to people who are trans and gender diverse. Some of this work has started, including the curricular review mentioned above. Our research will need to shift to measuring how our interventions affect providers’ knowledge, skills and attitudes. Thus far, we have focussed on medical students, physicians and physiotherapists; we will need to expand it to other professions.
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