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Trans Patient Shares How Doctor Saved Her Life Through Gender-Affirming Care

A Transgender Flag in between two Pride Flags outside with trees in the background.

After Dr. Luann Racher received a focused practice designation for minimally invasive gynecologic surgery from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG), one of her trans patients came to TikTok to share how Dr. Racher’s exceptional care saved her life—and those of many other trans women across the state.

Dr. Racher is an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), where she’s the director of the vulva clinic. An expert in less invasive surgical techniques that reduce post-operative pain, risk of infection, and recovery time in her patients, Dr. Racher is the first doctor in Arkansas to receive a focused practice designation in that field.

Focused practice designations tell potential patients that a practitioner has significant expertise in a specialty field and focuses at least part of their ongoing work within it. Such designations, provided by recognized medical boards, help direct patients to the practitioners most likely to be able to help them while providing assurance about the standard of care involved. In Dr. Racher’s case, this includes patients whose uterine conditions are severe or complex enough that most other practitioners would regard them as ineligible for those techniques, forcing them into more invasive, dangerous, and painful surgeries than what she is able to perform for them.

Dr. Racher isn’t just an expert on these surgical techniques though, she’s also an expert provider of trans-affirming gynecological care—something her trans patients want to see her recognized for as much as her other work. Tiktoker Harmonei, whose video enthusiastically praises Dr. Racher, describes her as a “hero to the trans community”, stating that she’s saved a lot of trans lives in Arkansas. While some responded to her video with enthusiastic agreement, others who hadn’t already heard of Dr. Racher expressed their astonishment that there was a doctor like that working in Arkansas—a reaction which, given the state’s 2021 passage of ACT 26, also known as the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act, isn’t at all surprising.

Act 26 implemented a ban on minors from accessing any kind of transition-related healthcare, including puberty blockers, even though this flies in the face of medical best practices. The co-founder of the UAMS Gender Clinic and Director of the UAMS children’s hospital’s Gender Clinic, Dr. Racher testified against Act 26 when it was passing its way through the courts. Though the act’s passage means she can no longer help trans minors access appropriate care, she remains a dedicated provider of affirming care for trans adults, something her patients want to make her famous for in addition to her incredible surgical skills. Not just as a tribute to the woman herself, but to let trans Arkansans know there are safe, trans-affirming places they can go to access care in a state that feels increasingly hostile toward them.

There’s a neat parallel here in the way that Dr. Racher has worked so hard to provide innovative and humane care for her trans and cis patients alike, while right-wing politicians strive to restrict both groups’ ability to access that kind of care in the first place. Dr. Racher’s work pushes back against a system that dismisses women’s pain, both trans and cis, proving that there are alternatives to the substandard care both groups are expected to accept as default. It’s a practical demonstration of how our interests align, and how we should be natural allies in our fight against a system that seeks to harm us all.

(featured image: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

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Siobhan Ball is a historian, an archivist, and loves Star Wars so much her English teacher once staged an intervention with her family to try and get her to read other books. She decided to go on and write about it for a living instead.