Corey Gallet de St. Aurin volunteers with UF Health’s Youth Gender Program
Inside a large organization, Corey Gallet de St. Aurin and the Youth Gender Program provide a safe spot for adolescents going through gender transitioning.
Corey Gallet de St. Aurin knew he wanted to be a physician, but transgender person in transition, was aware of the challenges he would face trying to make that dream a reality. As a student of UF’s Pre-Health Post-Baccalaureate Program (PHPB), Corey needed to log clinical hours as a requirement for going to medical school. A friend of Corey’s who was a member of the UF HealthQueer Alliance, an LGBT group of health science students from UF, suggested that Corey contact Janet Silverstein, M.D.
“At the time, I did not realize that reaching out to Dr. Silverstein would change my life,” Corey said. “And it would allow me to help change the lives of others, too.”
Corey reached out to Dr. Silverstein initially just looking for a chance to shadow her, but that transitioned into a long-term opportunity working with UF Health’s Youth Gender Program. Corey went from observing Dr. Silverstein’s work to becoming a volunteer on the team.
This is so important to Corey because in February 2016, at the age of 32, Corey began his own transition. Corey was required to undergo psychological evaluation and therapy prior to beginning medical transitioning. Because of Corey’s age, there is not a local clinic like the Youth Gender Program available to him that could meet all his needs in one place, so he first had to find a therapist to obtain a letter he could present to a physician that indicated he was indeed transgender and ready for the medical transition process. It took almost four months between his first therapy visit and the start of his medical transition. The UF Health Youth Gender Program streamlines this process and allows patients to receive psychological and medical care at the same time.
Silverstein, a pediatric endocrinologist, is the founder of the Youth Gender Program. She is joined by Kristin Dayton, M.D., a board certified pediatrician and pediatric endocrinology fellow, and Anyaliese Hancock-Smith, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist. Together, along with help from Corey, the multidisciplinary team offers services that are in-line with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care including:
- consultation psychotherapy
- pubertal blocking
- assessment of medical readiness for cross-sex hormone therapy
In addition to providing expert care, one of the goals of the UF Health Youth Gender Program is to provide a special environment where patients and their families can interact and support one another.
Corey contributes to that special, supportive environment which is beneficial to the transitioning process. Corey provides emotional support for the patients in the Youth Gender Program — that is a welcome change from the negativity they might experience in their everyday lives. Bullying has become an issue for members of the LGBT community, and can cause problems in school for young people. Bullying creates a negative learning environment that can make an already difficult transition completely unbearable, with some experiencing suicidal thoughts. The rate of suicide is more than 40 percent for transgender or gender non-conforming people according to a study by the Williams Institute in 2015.
That is why Corey’s involvement in the Youth Gender Program is so important. His undergraduate degree is in social work, and he has turned out to be a link from the Youth Gender Program to the community. Corey helps answer questions that the physicians can’t because he’s going through the transition process, too. He understands the patients’ fears and concerns more than anyone.
“Physicians can help answer questions about the medical side effects of transitioning, but I can offer a perspective on the emotional ones,” says Corey.
Corey also keeps the patients informed about events and other processes that go along with the transition like changing names and updating drivers’ licenses.
“Corey is an invaluable asset to our clinic and to the transgender community,” said Dr. Dayton. “He is a tireless advocate for transgender children, and he has the ability to make our patients feel welcome and comfortable in ways we, as physicians who have not gone through the emotional and physical roller coaster of gender affirming treatment, could not.”
Ultimately, Corey is a benefit to the patients of the Youth Gender Program but receives personal satisfaction of his own. Volunteering has helped confirm that he wants to be a physician, and it has allowed him to provide support to patients in a way that lets them know there is a future for them.
Corey adds, “I know that what I’m doing makes a difference. I help give our patients hope.”