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The doctor who left primary care to help LGBTQ patients

Bennett Purser Nov 12, 2019
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GERGELY BESENYEI/AFP via Getty Images

In many rural places across the country, it can be hard to find a good doctor. Especially for members of the LGBTQ community who can experience discrimination in healthcare.

Dr. Crystal Beal left primary care to open an online doctor’s office, QueerDoc. Beal sees patients in Washington and Alaska over video and soon will be expanding to Idaho. QueerDoc provides gender-diverse care, everything from hormones for transgender patients to contraception and letters to change gender markers on identification cards.

Beal started their career in primary care, but wanted to shift their focus on their community, and to spend more time with patients after the fast pace of family medicine.

Dr. Crystal Beal, founder and physician at QueerDoc. (Mandy Flame)

“I’m Dr. Crystal Beal and I’m the physician and owner at QueerDoc. QueerDoc is a totally online doctor’s office focused on queer and gender affirming medicine. Things like hormones for transgender and non-binary people, contraception, S.T.I. screening and PrEP for HIV prevention.

Unfortunately, there are definitely people who have been totally turned away from a doctor’s office for being gender-diverse, just completely refused care. And then there’s all the other kind of traumas that happen when we go into the doctor’s office, when they don’t use our name or pronouns. They don’t even have forms that include our gender on them. We might get a doctor who really doesn’t know how to offer the medical care we need.

QueerDoc is just me and one other provider at this point, so we don’t have any credentialing department, billing department, we don’t have a referral department, or anything like that. When you kind of go to a more traditional clinic system, a large clinic system, they have huge support systems and structures and staff to do all of those things, and we just don’t have those kinds of resources.

I don’t take insurance and I offer a sliding scale. Some of my patients are paying $25 to talk to me for 45 minutes. And if I was billing insurance in primary care, that would probably be like, anywhere from like $300 to $500 that I will be billing for that time. So I do have a part time job, doing addiction medicine and I, you know, I make a standard paycheck and get benefits and get paid on a salary, hourly kind of basis. And so that’s really how I pay my bills right now.

I went into medicine because I really couldn’t figure out anything else to do with my life. And then I was pretty unhappy doing primary care, I felt really overwhelmed and burned out. And I just got the opportunity to work serving my own community and taking care of people who have generally been turned away by the healthcare system. It’s so rewarding to just provide good care, and be kind and have them feel safe and not have to worry, or be scared, about going into the doctor.”

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