Health Services dedicated to supporting  transgender, gender-diverse students

November 20, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Living In Our Natural Selves (LIONS) is a team of health care professionals dedicated to supporting transgender and gender diverse students at the University. Whether a student is in the process of transitioning or wishing to explore their gender identity, LIONS is there to lend a caring hand.    

Dr. Yvonne Patterson knew the importance and necessity of health care for transgender individuals, which prompted her to lead the LIONS team.   

“I’ve gone to some conferences and when there was a need to have a provider for transgender care, I jumped at the opportunity,” said Patterson, “because I, being a person of color, really feel that there’s a lot of misunderstood issues and problems that that community has, and I clearly can identify with that.”   

LIONS is a collaboration between University Health Services (UHS) and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Having clear communication between different medical departments that intersect becomes especially important when discussing a person’s gender identity. Without proper communication, an individual’s care is often compromised.    

“There are some particular concerns that lend themselves nicely to having care in both units,” said Dr. Natalie Depalma, Assistant Director of Clinical & Services and LIONS team member. “We know that care goes better when treatment providers are communicating with each other and all aligned about what the student wants and the type of treatment that we’re offering them, making sure that those things are working in concert with each other.”  

An individual’s primary care team in both UHS and CAPS communicate regularly via phone, secure message, or in person. The entire LIONS team meets on a routine basis to discuss individual treatment plans and other additional suggestions to help patients.  

Through LIONS, individuals can have a secure and confidential consultation with a qualified medical professional. From this conversation, professionals will assess and help the individual take the next steps forward in their journey, whether that be a mental health evaluation, medical evaluation, or hormones.   

“LIONS is an opportunity to provide collaborative, compassionate, competent care for a group of people that frequently have negative interactions with the healthcare system,” said Dr. Micaela Hayes, LIONS team member. “It allows us to be supportive of their gender journey as they come to college.”   

If an individual is looking to speak with a LIONS team member, call 863-0774 or visit  myUHS online to schedule an appointment with the case manager.  To learn more about the LIONS Team and what it offers, visit the Transgender and Gender Diverse Care website.  


Last Updated September 23, 2020