Carter: I am a primary care doctor for the LGBTQI2S community of Portland, and the Pacific Northwest. I primarily serve the needs of transgender people and offer hormone therapy, pubertal suppression, STI testing and sexual health, minor surgery, physical medicine, and primary care to a very marginalized and under-served community. I am also in the process of negotiating with Legacy to begin a gender clinic working with an integrative care team as fully credentialed doctors in the Legacy Hospital System.
What is unique about your clinic or the way you practice?
Carter: Sacred Vessel Natural Medicine is a clinic dedicated to the health and well being of the LGBTQI2S communities of the PNW. We are a for-profit clinic with a non-profit sister organization, the Equi Institute, that serves the social health and advocacy needs of our community with programming and direct service. We are housed within the Q Center, Portland's LGBTQI2S community center and a hub of queer culture. We are involved in many LGBTQI2S community events and workshops to improve our community's health. from National Transgender HIV Testing Day to Transgender Day of Remembrance, we have created Community STI testing days, letter writing campaigns, and trainings that benefit the community.
Our clinic is set up to feel like home. So many of our patients have severe medical trauma from past poor experiences trying to interface with the health care system as transgender people, they need an environment that feels safe. We use a patient centered care model, emphasizing patient autonomy, education, and informed consent. We are a Health at Every Size Clinic and strive to offer care from our strongly held beliefs in a weight neutral healthy diet and lifestyle approach. My resident and I have taken extensive coursework on racial justice in health care and aim to make our care and programming as inclusive as possible, centering people of color in our model of care.
How is OANP valuable to you and/or your profession?
Carter: OANP continues to fight for us to be able to use our license to it's fullest scope through insurance, and to influence policy at the state level. We have great access to CME and professional development.
Do you have a favorite patient experience?
Carter: My favorite experience with patients is their first appointment. I get to hear their story and learn all about the richness of their life. I get to start them on their journey to gender congruence with hormone therapy. I often get to give them the best doctor visit they have ever had.
Why do you practice Naturopathic medicine?
Carter: I developed a love and keen interest in Naturopathic medicine as a young child. I began learning about herbal medicine at age 7 when I met my witch mama, Catherine Abbey Rich who taught me much about the plants of the California coast and how to use them. I began reading about nutrition and vitamins at 8, and bodywork and energy modalities at 10. I wanted to be a witch healer from the time I began playing with herbs.
My childhood play became a real dedication in my early 20's as I entered into massage practice. I broke my back in 1998 and was unable to do massage for very long, but it kicked my butt back into school and I got to Medical school. I was torn between allopathic medical school and Naturopathic school before I chose NUNM. I believe strongly in an evidence based model of care, and Allopathy has the studies behind it. I was not convinced until I watched my Mother go through treatment for breast cancer.
Who is/was the most influential person to you on your naturopathic journey?
Carter: My Mother. When I was looking into medical schools, my mother was going through radiation and chemotherapy for breast cancer. She went through all the Allopathic processes prescribed by western medicine and was utterly destroyed by it. She sought Naturopathic care after her surgery and it improved her life and well being to such a great extent that she was able to thrive again, and still is. It saved her life and her spirit. I watched her go through that process and it clarified for me that I wanted to be on the healing end of care, not the care that wages war on the body and interrupts it's systems of homeostasis, health, and healing.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Carter: I'm very proud to be a teacher for the Oregon Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force. We train SANE nurses in the process and care of conducting forensic exams for transgender people who are assault survivors. I have worked with them for 2 years and trained over 200 nurses and nurse practitioners to care for transgender people.
Do you have any words of wisdom for recent ND graduates?
Carter: Don't let anyone tell you you can't do it, whatever it is. It may be difficult to do what you want to to do; start a non-profit, work overseas doing aid work, adventuring into uncharted waters of health care with new modalities, and you may be overwhelmed and stressed. But if I, a bipolar genderqueer person with a broken back, living by myself with no family can make the Equi Institute and Sacred Vessel a reality, you can do it too.
What is your definition of “happiness”?
Carter: Helping other people. Coffee on the porch in the morning with a little rain.
What would you sing at Karaoke night?
Carter: Ring of fire by Johnny Cash. I'm pretty deep base these days.
Who is your favorite author?
Carter: That is not possible to define. On what topic?
If you had a warning label, what would yours say?
Carter: Warning: combustible and incendiary materials, do not open unless prepared for radical change.