Sheba to open LGBTQ+ clinic, add gender-affirming surgery appointments

Sheba's new LGBTQ+ clinic will provide medical care as well as support in becoming parents for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

People wave signs saying "Israel says yes to equality at an LGBTQ+ demonstration. (photo credit: THE AGUDAH – THE ASSOCIATION FOR LGBTQ EQUALITY IN ISRAEL)
People wave signs saying "Israel says yes to equality at an LGBTQ+ demonstration.
(photo credit: THE AGUDAH – THE ASSOCIATION FOR LGBTQ EQUALITY IN ISRAEL)

An LGBTQ+ clinic will be opened in Sheba Medical Center, and more appointments for gender-affirming surgeries for transgender people will be added, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Vice President of Sheba Prof. Arnon Ofek announced on Thursday.

The announcement came as part of the "Equal Health" conference that was held in honor of Pride Month which is celebrated in June.

The LGBTQ+ community will be able to get personalized healthcare in the new clinic, including counseling in sexual health, healthcare for youths and young adults and medical testing. 

The clinic will also support members of the LGBTQ+ community through the process of becoming parents with fertility treatments, support through pregnancies and helping with surrogacy both in Israel and abroad.

Among the services offered will be supported throughout the entire gender-affirming process for transgender people. The clinic's staff will support them by recognizing their gender, personalizing hormonal treatments and matching their faces and voices to their gender. 

 Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announces circular banning LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, February 14, 2022 (credit: MIRI SHIMONOVICH/GPO) Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announces circular banning LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, February 14, 2022 (credit: MIRI SHIMONOVICH/GPO)

As well to the healthcare offered by the clinic, the number of gender-affirming surgeries performed by Dr. Alon Liran, who is the only doctor in Israel who performs the surgeries, has gone up to four a month.

The activity at the clinic will be coordinated by Nurse Nissim Ovadya-Zaig who has two degrees in nursing and has held a number of positions in the past 27 years in senior nursing roles in Sheba.

Ovadya-Zaig's responsibilities as coordinating nurse will be to connect the patients to the doctors, recognize unique medical needs of the patients, and give advice and support to the patients.

Together with Ovadya-Zaig, the clinic will be led by Dr. Izik Levy who established Sheba's HIV/AIDS hospice and has been managing the sexually transmitted diseases unit in Sheba for the last three decades.

"Anyone who turns to the healthcare system has to get a respectful, professional and equal response, and opening the new clinic will do just that," said Horowitz.

"Now is the time. The LGBTQ+ community has been intentionally discriminated against for years, and if we don't fix it now fast, who knows when we'll have the chance for these important steps?

"I congratulate Sheba Medical Center for establishing the LGBTQ+ clinic and adding more gender-affirming appointments. The Israeli healthcare system is becoming a world leader in regard to the LGBTQ+ community. It's a great pride."

"Sheba is open to all the communities in Israel and is attentive to their needs," said Ofek. "This is a move that is meant to answer to the needs of both patients and healthcare staff in order to provide the best medical care for unique needs in the LGBTQ+ community.

"We look forward to cooperating with the whole community and helping any medical center around the country that wants to expand the medical care that it provides to its patients."