My Best Self: Christina

  • Christina photo
     
Most people would balk at a two and a half hour drive to visit their doctor. Christina Cleveland has a different story to tell.
 
For a little over two years Christina has made the trip from her home in rural Pennsylvania, outside of Allentown, to receive care at Mazzoni Center Family & Community Medicine.  Her story reflects the reality for many transgender individuals who live outside major cities.  
 
“Mazzoni has made a huge difference in my life,” she says.  “In some ways you can say that it has saved it.”
 
Just a few years ago Christina was on disability for depression, in and out of psychiatric hospitals, she explains.  
 
She started transitioning on her own, doing research and ordering prescriptions online.  
 
“I didn’t have a doctor,” she says.  “I couldn’t find one in my area who would treat me.”  
 
She was paying her transition-related healthcare costs out of pocket, and it was very expensive.
 
She went to see a physician in Scranton about another health concern, and that doctor -- who had attended our Philadelphia Trans Health Conference -- recommended that she contact Mazzoni about transgender care.  When she made that first visit, she says: “it was a huge relief.”
 
Christina says that connecting with our healthcare providers and getting the care she needs has affected every aspect of her life.  
 
“I almost don’t recognize the person I was two years ago,” she says.  “I have hope now. I have dreams. I have career goals - things I’d let go of before.”
 
“Mazzoni helps me to live my best life,” Christina says.  
 
Finding social support in her area remains a challenge.  “There’s nobody out here,” she says, “especially for us girls from rural areas.  All my trans friends are online.”  
 
For that reason, she hopes to attend the Trans Health Conference someday, and eventually to reduce the distance by living in or nearer to Philadelphia. 
 
In the meantime, she has been working with Mazzoni’s legal services team to ensure her identity documents line up with her lived experience as a woman.
 
“With their help I’ve already been able to change my gender marker on my ID,” she says, adding that the documents have been prepared and the hearing for her legal name change has been scheduled to take place later this month.  
 
Looking ahead to the next chapter of her life, Christina says: “I’m so excited.”
 

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