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#IamMGHresearch – Meet Dr. Raymond Fung
#IamMGHresearch tells the story of our researchers. In celebration of PRIDE Month, we would like you to meet Dr. Raymond Fung, endocrinologist at MGH. Dr. Fung is specializes in endocrine care for transgender individuals throughout the city and conducts research related to transgender health and care.
“I immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong when I was 8 years old and grew up in Toronto. I went to medical school at University of Toronto and decided to specialize in endocrinology because I liked the variety and diversity of patients that endocrinologists get to work with.
It was during my training that I became interested in transgender care and hormone therapy. I was surprised to discover that transgender care really wasn’t a topic that was covered anywhere – it wasn’t something we learned about in school or during residency. There also weren’t a lot of specialists in Toronto at that time offering this type of care. I really felt for the community because I felt like mainstream medicine was failing to recognize and address their needs. I’d had my own experiences with discrimination growing up and could understand the feelings of rejection that can often come along with being disregarded.
Since there was no education or training offered through my school, I had to seek out my own opportunities. I started attending specialty conferences to meet experts in the field and approached the team at Sherbourne Health – a local health centre in Toronto that works closely with people in the LGBTQ2S+ community – for a six-month placement. This placement was a great experience because I got to work directly with transgender patients and learn more about their particular needs.
It can be hard to understand what transgender people go through until you hear a person’s story. Gender is a huge part of who we are and how we live our day-to-day lives and can be difficult to get away from. If you present differently than what you feel, it can be very upsetting, cause a lot of distress and at times, paralyze your life. Providing hormone therapy to individuals can really help people feel better about themselves by helping them feel like who they truly are.
When I came to MGH, I was excited to be working in a community hospital that was in my own area. I was one of the only endocrinologists in Toronto at that time who was providing transgender care, so I saw people from all over the city. I also started doing telemedicine in order to provide care for people who lived in the more Northern regions of Ontario.
Along with my clinical work, I am very interested in research. One of the projects I’m currently working on looks at whether bone health is affected by genital removal surgery, as the genitals provide important hormones that help maintain the health of the body and bones in particular. We’re currently about three quarters of the way through recruitment. Another project I’ve looks at the thoughts and perceptions of medical students and residents about transgender care and how much education they receive. My colleagues and I did this through surveys and qualitative interviews.
In my fifteen years of practice I’ve seen some change but I still feel this is an area of care that not many physicians are educated about. My hope is with more people entering this specialty, we can create a cycle where we, the providers, can continue to train new students and ensure the community feels recognized and always has access to the care they need."