Trans student expresses concerns over SIU Health Center distribution of hormones


The SIU Student Health Center, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018 in Carbondale, IL. (Isabel Miller | @IsabelMillerDE)

Third year SIU-C student Chase Turner made his distress with the Student Health Center known, saying it is not able to provide testosterone.

Turner was ready to start his transition last year, going through his primary care physician and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). CAPS directed him to Dr. Kathryn Waldyke, but he found out the school wouldn’t be able to provide the necessary testosterone right away.

Turner was referred to another health care facility but was told by Waldyke he’d be able to bring the prescriptions back for updates, the Center just isn’t allowed to start his prescription.


“I was planning on starting at the beginning of the year last year, but I ended up not being able to start until almost the end of the second semester,” Turner said. “[That was caused by] the situation with them not being allowed to prescribe it and having to take a day trip to Champaign to get that Planned Parenthood prescription.”

Turner said he was able to get testosterone from Planned Parenthood with ease but is still running into issues transferring to SIU’s pharmacy. He said the pharmacy was not taking his outside insurance for a period of time.

Because Turner is on his family’s insurance but was not telling his family about the transition, he said going to an off-campus pharmacy caused a big problem for him in the beginning.

“The reason I started off at SIU pharmacy was because… at the time, my parents had gotten notifications from Walgreens when I got a new medication,” Turner said. “It wasn’t until I had come out to my parents that I was able to transition to Walgreens.”

SIU not being able to offer initiation hormones for Turner’s transition rubbed him the wrong way because of the various other prescriptions they are allowed to prescribe, he said.

“It just seems like it’s a very transphobic policy since they’re allowed to prescribe things like antidepressants and things like that through their psychological services but not testosterone,” Turner said. “Especially because I got a birth control prescription from them, which isn’t exactly the same, but it’s still like a form of estrogen or progestin.”

New Medical Chief of Staff Andrew Riffey said recommendations and referrals to other health facilities are needed when the proper care or medication can’t be offered at the Center.


“We have situations with patients that we don’t have the specialized care or the specialized knowledge in helping them get the best care that they need,” Riffey said. “We recommend that they be referred out to see somebody to start their care to figure it out and get the necessary prescriptions that we need to start that process.”

Riffey said since most students aren’t from the Carbondale area, they’d see a doctor back in their hometown but, he said, SIU would guarantee students follow-ups and refills.

“While they’re here on campus, it’s difficult for them to get back to see the follow-up or just to get refills,” Riffey said. “We can refill their medications… here to help with that, but we’re not comfortable with starting that therapy process.”

Waldyke, who usually works with the trans students, said the idea of initiation hormone
therapy is in discussion but not yet adopted by her or other medical staff.

Referrals to other facilities can come with transportation challenges, Waldyke said.

“I have had patients who have ridden Amtrak up to Chicago or driven up to Chicago to see Howard Brown,” Waldyke said. “Conveniently enough, Amtrak goes to within a mile of the Planned Parenthood in Champaign.”

Waldyke said it used to be more difficult to recommend people to facilities because some did not offer hormone therapy.

“[It] used to be a pretty big deal when Planned Parenthood wasn’t yet doing hormone initiation,” Waldyke said. “When it was pretty much just Endocrinology in St. Louis, or [Vanderbilt University in Nashville]… then it was a real stumbling block.”

Waldyke is pleased that Planned Parenthood started hormone initiation, cutting down travel time for students from around six hours to about half that.

Turner hopes doctors at the student center in the future will be able to prescribe testosterone for hormone therapy and have an understanding of what the students are going through.

“Most trans people know what they’re getting into before starting,” Turner said. “I’ve not met a single trans person who hasn’t done their research before and hasn’t looked into it extensively.”

Staff reporter Jamilah Lewis can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @jamilahlewis. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.