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22 February 2021 

Nixing barriers and stigma, a queer-centric digital health platform

Launched in January, FOLX is a digital healthcare platform made for queer people, by queer people. To battle the discrimination often faced by LGBTQ individuals, FOLX offers clinical treatment in a stigma-free environment: "No more judgment, no more explaining yourself, no more gatekeeping." Treatments include gender hormone therapy, PrEP and erectile dysfunction medication. Consultations are by video chat, and all medications and supplies are refilled automatically and delivered directly and discretely to the client's door, with at-home lab tests to follow soon.

Membership fees start at USD 59 per month for someone on estrogen hormone replacement maintenance therapy, or USD 119 for people (re)starting HRT. Fees include all clinician visits, labs, supplies and most common meds. FOLX doesn't take insurance, stating that the current system often fails the insured by providing incentives based on profit, not patient outcomes; it's also still largely heteronormative and cis-normative, meaning services specific to the queer and trans community aren't always included. By negotiating fixed prices for medications and operating as a digital platform, FOLX aims to keep fees reasonable. The Boston-based platform currently operates in 12 states, and is working to expand to all 50. 

For hetero and cis people who have never considered the experience of trans, queer or nonbinary folks seeking treatment: it ranges from being shamed to treated as a circus act, and from being misgendered by a pharmacist to assaulted by a healthcare provider. Creating an accessible option that allows people to feel safe, comfortable, seen and cared for is a huge step forward. FOLX should inspire anyone in traditional healthcare systems to examine how they're treating their trans, queer and nonbinary clients. Beyond healthcare, it's a reminder to do everything we can to make all of our customers feel welcome, respected and equal. If not, people can and will find ways to provide a better experience for their communities.

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