Fargo doctor opening practice focused on gender-affirming care in face of looming legislation
“As a doctor, it’s tough to hear that these legislators think they know better than I do how to take care of people,” Dr. Mayson Bedient said.
Editor's note: Those who are dealing with mental illness or suicidal thoughts are urged to call or text the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988.
FARGO — While some LGBTQ+ individuals face challenges when it comes to health care, one Fargo doctor has made it his mission to fix that while in the shadow of a state bill that would make his work illegal for patients under age 18.
Dr. Mayson Bedient is an all-ages family medicine physician in Fargo who is opening a practice at Essentia Health focused on providing gender-affirming care to members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Bedient has four years of experience providing gender-affirming care, with services including mental health medications, hormone therapy and connecting patients to surgeons. Starting Feb. 20, Bedient will work full time at Essentia’s Osgood Clinic, 4622 40th Ave. S., Fargo.
While still taking any client who comes his way, Bedient's area of passion lies in providing friendly and knowledgeable gender-affirming care to his patients.
“I’m a trans person myself,” Bedient said. “It’s important to me to be able to provide that care in a place that’s safe and comfortable."
Bedient, who uses he/they pronouns, feels he has unique insight into his patients’ circumstances and can make them feel a little bit more comfortable right off the bat.
“A couple of the patients that I've met have been really excited that I'm a transgender provider,” Bedient said. “I’ve been there myself, so it's kind of exciting for them to have somebody who really understands it.”
LGBTQ+ people, and transgender individuals in particular, often avoid medical care due to negative experiences or a lack of competence among providers, said Bedient, who was hired by Essentia in December . They have spent the last month building up a staff of trained professionals who will provide inclusive and informed care to anyone who walks through their doors.
The practice helps “serve this population that has been traditionally underserved," Bedient said, noting other regional providers are conducting gender-affirming care.
Canopy Medical Clinic, a sexual health and LBGTQ+ health center in Fargo, along with Sanford, are also striving to correct the health disparities present in the LGBTQ+ community, he said .
“Gender-affirming treatment is not something you’re going to find everywhere,” Bedient said. “There’s just a lot of doctors who aren’t comfortable with it or don’t practice it.”
Offering a welcoming atmosphere with informed medical professionals who have the necessary education is important, Bedient said, because it has a positive impact on the mental health of his patients.
Suicide attempts, depression and anxiety are “sky-high” among LGBTQ+ people, and trans individuals especially, Bedient said.
In North Dakota, 38% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, while 16% attempted suicide in the past year, according to the Trevor Project , a national group that strives to end suicide among LGBTQ youth.
Meanwhile, a survey of students across North Dakota showed approximately 18.6% of high schoolers have considered suicide in the last year, and 6.1% of students attempted suicide, according to the 2021 North Dakota High School Statewide Report from the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.
“This time of year is always terrible because of legislation, especially for our young people,” Bedient said.
While LGBTQ+ advocates say a multitude of bills being considered in the North Dakota Legislature are harmful to their community, House Bill 1301 in particular weighs heavily on Bedient’s mind.
The bill introduced by Rep. Brandon Prichard, R-Bismarck, would prohibit medical gender transitioning procedures on a minor, also known as gender-affirming care. This includes both medical procedures and medication.
Prichard said in December that the medical field’s willingness to provide gender-affirming care to minors is grounded more in a political agenda than sound scientific evidence. He said doctors should not entertain patients’ " dysphoria " while treating it.
Gender-affirming surgery has never been performed on a minor in North Dakota .
Medical professionals and their employers would be held liable for past services, according to the bill.
“As a doctor, it’s tough to hear that these legislators think they know better than I do how to take care of people,” Bedient said. “It’s hard … as a transgender person, particularly, to go through this year after year, cycle after cycle, and hear the things that are said.”
Legislators aren't aware of exactly how much thought goes into each act of gender-affirming care, Bedient said. Prior to any medical action, patients go through an evaluation with a mental health professional, and both patients and their family have time for self-reflection.
The terminology used in the bills regarding the type of care is also inaccurate and harmful, he added.
With the impending legislation on Bedient's mind, he isn't sure he would stay if the bill passed.
"You’re losing physicians who do more than just the gender care. That’s such a small portion, really, of what we do,” he said. “You’re risking pushing doctors like me away.”
Despite looming legislation, Bedient has already seen several LGBTQ+ patients, as well as many others, during his time at Essentia.
Former patients from his practice in rural South Dakota are planning to follow him here, according to Bedient. Patients plan on driving more than two hours in order to maintain their medical relationship.
“I want to provide care for everybody,” said Bedient, who, as a family medicine doctor, also helps patients of all ages with everything from health screenings and sick visits to cancer screenings.
Those wishing to contact Bedient can call Essentia at 701-364-8900 or visit essentiahealth.org .
Bedient will also be speaking at an event hosted by the Pride Collective and Community Center on Saturday, Feb. 11. The meet-and-greet will begin at 1 p.m. in Fargo at 1105 1st Ave. S.
“I’m excited to be in a city like Fargo,” he said, helping “people that need help.”