ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — This summer, Sophia Machado packed her bags and left her home in Oregon to move to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where her sister lived and where, Machado had heard, residents were friendlier to their transgender neighbors and gender-affirming health care was easier to get.
Machado, 36, is transgender and has good health insurance through her job. Within weeks, she was able to get into a small primary care clinic, where her sister was already a patient and where the doctor was willing to refill her estrogen prescription and refer her to an endocrinologist.
She felt fortunate. “I know that a lot of the larger medical institutions here are pretty slammed,” she said.
Other patients seeking gender-affirming health care in New Mexico, where access is protected by law, haven’t been as lucky.
After her primary care doctor retired in 2020, Anne Withrow, a 73-year-old trans woman who has lived in Albuquerque for over 50 years, sought care at Truman Health Services, a clinic specializing in transgender health care at the University of New Mexico. “They said, ‘We have a waiting list.’ A year later they still had a waiting list. A year later, before I managed to go back, I got a call,” she said.
But instead of the clinic, the caller was a provider from …