Dan Karasic, MD – Trans Mental Health Expert

Dan-Karasic-blogAs part of AHP’s 2010 shift to broaden its array of services to LGBTQ people, we have been expanding services for transgender people. Among our most important new services is AHP’s Gender Team, which provides mental health assessments for trans people seeking gender transition surgery. The Gender Team’s health assessments support the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s groundbreaking program to provide these surgeries to people whose low incomes had made surgery unattainable. DPH requires the assessments in accordance with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care (SOC Version 7).

Dan Karasic, MD has been a psychiatrist at AHP since 1991, working with both people with HIV and in transgender health. As a member of WPATH’s Board of Directors, and a co-author of WPATH SOC 7, Dan has helped train AHP staff to conduct these mental health assessments. AHP psychologist Michelanne Baker, another trans health expert, and Dan co-created AHP’s Gender Team, where, in addition to providing surgery-related mental health assessments, they discuss challenging cases and follow the progress of trans people receiving mental health services at AHP. Dan and Michelanne have been fortunate to enlist the skills and enthusiasm of many other AHP mental health clinicians, and their monthly team meetings draw about a dozen staff members and clinical interns. This team approach has allowed AHP to expand the provision of these important mental health services to meet this new demand.

Next Tuesday, February 17 at 11:00 am PST, AHP will host a live, free webinar from the AHP Services Center, during which Dan will discuss how to do mental health assessments for trans surgeries in accordance with WPATH SOC 7. The webinar, sponsored by the Fenway Institute National Center for LGBT Education, will offer continuing education credit to hundreds of clinicians across the United States. We hope that many other organizations will follow AHP’s lead and develop Gender Teams, just as several other states have followed California’s lead in removing transgender health exclusions from Medicaid and private health insurance.

You can sign up to participate in the live webinar here: http://www.lgbthealtheducation.org/training/upcoming-webinars/. In addition, the webinar will also be archived and accessible on demand.

There is a lot going on in the world of transgender health and we have some exciting opportunities this year. Dan will be presenting twice at the European Professional Association for Transgender Health (EPATH) conference in Ghent, Belgium. During one session, the WPATH SOC 7 Committee will discuss possible revisions for the next version of the Standards of Care. During the other session, he will join other UCSF colleagues and our counterparts at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm to compare practices, protocols, and approaches to clinical challenges. After the WPATH Board meeting, the final event in Ghent, Dan will go to Tel Aviv for a series of meetings on trans care with the Israeli national LGBT organization. Finally, on May 17 in Toronto, Dr. Karasic will be one of the faculty in an all-day course on trans health at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, organized by the APA Workgroup on Gender Dysphoria. This presentation will mark the first time the APA has sponsored a continuing medical education course on trans health.

Right around the corner and in our own back yard, AHP, and its Capacity Building Assistance Team, a part of AHP’s Provider Education Program, is a proud sponsor of the National Transgender Health Summit, April 17 to 18 in Oakland. During the summit, Dan will co-chair the Mental Health Track, and the AHP Gender Team will present our work. Registration is still open: http://transhealth.ucsf.edu/trans?page=ev-summit-2015.

At a time when transgender health is finally getting more of the attention it deserves, we at AHP are proud to work with leaders such as The Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, the summit’s producer, and WPATH to support the health and well-being of transgender people.

And we, who work with Dan Karasic, are proud to have a national leader in transgender mental health as a co-worker!