A Hattiesburg nurse practitioner has opened a clinic to exclusively serve the transgender community.
Stacie Pace opened Spectrum: The Other Clinic in November 2019, and the clinic provides telemedicine services to trans patients throughout Mississippi. Pace also recently rented a clinic space in downtown Hattiesburg to see patients who prefer in-person visits.
“I really wanted to start my own little clinic, but I didn’t know what kind I wanted or anything,” said Pace, who moved to Hattiesburg from Ocean Springs three years ago with her husband, Lee, who is also a nurse practitioner. “I was talking to my best friend, who is gay, and he mentioned that the LGBT community had issues with health care. I was like ... OK, let me look into this.”
Pace visited The Spectrum Center, a Hattiesburg-based advocacy and resource hub for LGBT people and their allies, to learn more about those issues and specific needs.
“I talked to a lot of good folks there, and I came to find out that the largest issue was transgender folks getting access to hormones,” she said. “They can find primary care, but getting access to hormones was pretty much out of the question. There’s one other clinic called Open Arms in Jackson, and you could go there ... but people don’t want to drive that far, and there’s a waiting list.”
She was determined to provide a solution, so she decided to open a virtual clinic that offered patient care sessions through the internet and by phone.
“I wanted to know how I could provide better care to the trans community, so I came up with the idea of telemedicine, which can reach the entire state,” said Pace. “I started that up in November, and then I was thinking some people don’t care for telemedicine or they just want to see you in person, so I rented this space off Hardy Street headed toward downtown.”
Pace said the clinic has been a learning experience for her.
“It’s been a journey of discovery about the resilience of the trans community,” she said. “I can’t believe the stuff they put up with ... from society in general.”
The nurse practitioner has also received a fair share of criticism from the community, which adds to the pain she feels for trans individuals.
“I’ve received so much hate mail, Facebook messages ... about how I’m going to hell, or how someone’s going to come shoot me, and I’m not even trans,” she said. “I can’t imagine what trans people go through on a daily basis. And, for the record, I don’t really care about the idiots who write hate mail ... they’re not going away, and neither am I.”
Pace has seen a great response from the trans community, and she said her patient list is growing.
“To be honest, when I first started, I was timid about advertising ... because of people and the hate mail,” she said. “I didn’t advertise, so I relied on word of mouth. People slowly trickled to me that way.”
She made a connection with Jensen Luke Matar, the transgender education and advocacy program coordinator for the ACLU of Mississippi, and she said that was beneficial in promoting the clinic’s work.
“He really put me in touch with good resources, gave me pep talks ... and helped me put myself out there,” said Pace. “While word of mouth does work, it’s very slow. I’ve gotten more confident ... and more fed up after seeing what patients go through. I said, screw it, I’ll put my cisgender self out there. If people want to try and hate on me, they can go ahead.”
Pace is generally available from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. every day, and she prefers text messages as the primary form of communication. Prospective patients can text (601) 466-9495.
Patients can also visit www.otherclinic.org to schedule an appointment or learn more. The in-person clinic is open by appointment only.
“It’s easier to text me, so I can answer a lot quicker,” she added. “The office is appointments only, for obvious safety reasons.”
Pace is originally from the Mississippi Gulf Coast and is a graduate of St. Martin High School.
She and her husband don’t have human children but spend their free time loving on their two puppy dogs.