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My story

I always found the idea of ‘coming out’ as strange or forced, but like many other LGBTQIA+ individuals I went through the same process on my journey to self-discovery and establishing my identity. I came out “officially” at the age of 17, or as I would prefer to say it, I started to let people in to who I am at 17. That is the same age that I decided to pursue an education in occupational therapy.

I applied to 9 schools originally and decided to attend D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY for my combined BS and MS of human occupation and occupational therapy. OT school was challenging, energizing, and fulfilling. I was fortunate to have incredible faculty, family, and friends who supported and challenged me with my crazy ideas like starting a community wellness clinic on campus or creating the official D’Youville OT instagram page – which is where the idea of @therainbowot grew from.

It was during professional development lecture in my final year of OT school where I found enough passion and frustration to start my lifelong mission for enhancing education, inclusion, representation, and advocacy for those within the LGBTQIA+ community, inside and outside of healthcare settings. I was so excited in class when we finally had a lecture where part of the class discussion was designated to address LGBT topics in OT. There was an objective to cover vast cultures including Korean and Latinx culture in a two hour span, leaving little time to cover all of the material, including LGBT+ topics. Without saying any names, it was clear to me that the professor was unprepared to answer questions about LGBT+ topics, especially those surrounding trans individuals – so the spotlight was turned to me (the token gay person). This wasn’t a new situation to me or the first time that I was placed with the responsibility to discuss LGBT+ topics in a class. I remember feeling powerful, frustrated, and concerned. There is a great amount of pressure when discussing topics and identities of the LGBT+ community, especially when my identity of being a white, gay, male (sex) does not come close to representing the entire community. It’s important to note that at the time of this class, I hadn’t really started acknowledging my non-binary identity, so I identified as a male. My concern came from the fact that I was one student, unable to represent or educate on all LGBT+ topics in only one section of the class. What did the other sections talk about? Did they discuss what it means to be trans? Did anyone validate the trans identity or provide definitions for the letters of the acronym? From there, the fire was lit to go on my own path of providing education and resources to anyone regarding these topics and more.

Where are we now? Well, The Rainbow OT has been running for just about a year. I launched my first LGBTQIA+ 101 series, a pronoun promise campaign, and have been a guest on two podcasts discussing LGBT+ related topics and occupational therapy’s role. With the support and safe space provided for friends that I owe the world to, I was able to let others in to who I am, a proud non-binary individual. I’m still in the beginning of my journey to self-discovery, but I am so happy with where I am when I look back at where I was. Where are we going next? You’ll just have to tag along and see.

XX,

Devlynn Neu

They/Them

The Rainbow OT

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Inclusive Intake Forms

Inclusive Intake Forms

Imagine arriving to an office or facility for a medical or related appointment, interacting with the receptionist, receiving an intake form, and already having experienced more than one trauma based on the language used when referring to you or by the information on the paper in front of you. This is the tragic reality for LGBTQIA+ and transgender or gender non-conforming folx (TGNC) when accessing healthcare. When our gender identity, pronouns, and sexual orientation are assumed of us or left out of crucial paperwork, we have already been neglected by the systems we must access. 

Under certain circumstances, one’s legal name may be required on intake forms or during the intake process for insurance or legal reasons. Though this may be necessary, it can still be traumatic and invalidating for members of the LGBTQIA+, especially TGNC folx. Often times one’s “legal name” is considered a “deadname”, a name that is no longer used by the individual in order to reclaim their identity, as a part of their personal transition, or for various other reasons. It is best to simply require one’s chosen name on an intake form, but if a legal name is required, then also leave another line to include their chosen name – the name they should be referred to as. 

Though some healthcare facilities are beginning to include pronouns on intake forms, there is still necessity for widespread use, inclusion, and normalization of pronouns. Language is a powerful tool in creating a safe space for our clients, including who they are as a whole person, and starting off on the right foot for establishing a strong and trusting therapeutic relationship. Misuse of pronouns can contribute to layers of trauma and can be perceived as direct trauma, which fractures the relationship that one has with the specific healthcare environment and can decrease the likelihood that one may access healthcare environments in general. Some common pronouns include: he/him/his, she/her/hers, and they/them/theirs, though there are other options pronouns as well. When creating an inclusive intake form, you could include check boxes for pronouns with a “fill in the blank option,” as well for an individual to list their pronouns that weren’t listed above or note that they are not comfortable sharing their pronouns. It is best and easiest for all to leave a blank line to fill in when prompted for inclusion of pronouns. 

With good intention, some healthcare environments have included the “other” option when providing options for identity on intake forms. The intention is to move beyond the binary of man/woman or male/female, however the term “other” ultimately furthers alienation of members of the community. Sit with yourself for a few minutes and empathize with what it feels like to be “other”. If you don’t feel anything, take some more time. I, a non-binary and gay person, am not “other”. I am human and my identity is valid, it is not “other”.

There are numerous simple ways to create inclusive intake forms, just by changing the language and/or formatting options. One of the easiest ways to do so is to completely remove all check boxes, including the binary options, and to leave a blank space for one to self-identify. With this example, make sure to note before the prompt that it is equally as valid to state, “I’d rather not say.” 

An inclusive intake form may look like this:


Chosen Name:________________________________________________________________________
Legal Name (if necessary):_______________________________________________________________
Pronouns:____________________________________________________________________________
Gender Identity:_______________________________________________________________________
Sexual Orientation:____________________________________________________________________
Address:_____________________________________________________________________________
(Insert any other necessary intake information)

For me, this intake form would look like:

Chosen Name: Dev Neu
Legal Name (if necessary): Devlynn Neu
Pronouns: They/Them, He/Him
Gender Identity: Non-binary
Sexual Orientation: Gay
Address: 123 Urbane Scrubs Ln, Scrub City, NY
(Insert any other necessary intake information)

It is our job as healthcare professionals to advocate for what is best for our clients. This includes honoring our patients for who they are – their identity and making sure the language we use mirrors what is best for them. Names and pronouns are not preferred nor up for interpretation, they are fact. Note that pronouns and one’s identity can shift over time and that does not invalidate who they were or give less value to who they are. The burden of communication of identity often falls to those within the LGBTQIA+ community, especially those that identity as TGNC. We as healthcare professionals can be the agents of change in the battle for recognition and inclusion. We can advocate for change of the intake forms at our places of work, so that at the first encounter a person in seen. 

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Blog Out in Healthcare

Out in Healthcare: Jonas Raider, MOTR

Name: Jonas Raider

Pronouns: He/him/his

Identity: Gay/Queer

Background: I grew up in the suburbs outside Philadelphia, and have spent the past 5 years living all over the US and Europe between grad school, travels, and a year teaching American culture in Spain. I was recommended OT by my older sister who is also an OT, and it came naturally as I wanted to find a profession that focused on helping individuals to increase their independence through collaboration and open dialogue. Outside OT, I value learning about languages, street photography, thrifting, cooking, biking, hiking, and house/techno music.

Profession: Occupational Therapist Turned User Experience (UX) Researcher

Area(s) of Practice or Interest: I love advocating for OT in non-traditional settings and paving the way for our role in areas we haven’t previously existed. Refugee resettlement, community health, and the design world are my preferred areas of practice, and I hope to continue expanding upon this and advocating for our importance!  

What does being ‘Out in Healthcare’ mean to you?: Unfortunately, many within the LGBTQIA+ community have experienced and continue to experience difficulties in accessing affirming healthcare services. Although I plan to work outside of direct client care in the healthcare sphere, being out means advocating for queer clients’ and coworkers’ voices in the design world to address more inclusive products and experiences. It also means setting an example for younger generations to see themselves represented and thriving, something I didn’t have many models of when I was younger.

What is one thing everyone should know about your identity?: Since coming out publicly at 16, I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to learn and grow in the ways I connect to the queer community over the years. I think it is important to realize that just like other aspects of life, your queer identity fluctuates in the role it plays! Years ago due to internalized homophobia, I would distance myself from queer people as I felt the proximity would take away from my perceived idea that living closer to a “straight passing” identity was important. Although this may work for other individuals and I in no way look down upon people who feel that needs to be an important theme intertwined with their queerness, it was liberating over the years to unlearn this perceived necessity, and just exist. My queerness is as integral to who I am as the fact that I love spending time outdoors.

How do you feel when your identity is included?: When I see other cisgender people put their pronouns in their profiles, emails, or other spaces, it makes me happy to see that it is finally becoming more of a movement. It is on us cisgender people to normalize this so that our trans and non-binary friends, coworkers, students, and clients don’t have to put in extra emotional energy to advocate for their livelihood. I feel whole when the actions of my peers allow my trans and non-binary friends to feel safe, heard, and seen.

What does “taking up space” mean to you?: Taking up space means showing up in straight spaces with confidence and remaining unapologetic in how I present my queer identity and exist. It also means constantly questioning the systems that exist that center whiteness and heteronormativity and making room for others who deserve a seat at the table. Taking up space in queer spaces means realizing the privileges I embody in being white and cis-gendered, and taking a step back to center, hear, and listen to the lived experiences of Trans, Non-Binary, and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) within the community.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to healthcare workers who aren’t sure how to honor the identities of their patients?: If you’re unsure of how to interact or honor your patients, be honest with them and ask questions! Honesty in admitting when you don’t know something and a commitment to seeking out information to expand your expertise goes a long way in terms of affirming the care, safety, and trust of your clients. If you want to validate your clients, ask them what their lived experiences and preferences are, take criticism when you are corrected or informed, and go from there. 

Has your identity influenced healthcare that you’ve received?: Returning to the suburbs where I grew up to see a doctor for check ups occasionally, there have been (many) frustrating moments of internalized homophobia and unnecessary awkwardness that have been displayed by healthcare providers towards me.

Where can people find you?: You can find me on LinkedIn or contact me via email at Jonasianraider@gmail.com

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Out in Healthcare: Madison Kirkpatrick, SPT, M.S, CSCS, LSVT BIG

Name: Madison Kirkpatrick

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Identity: Pansexual and asexual cisgender female

Background: I was born and raised in Eureka, CA. I grew up in an extremely conservative household that made me feel unsafe and forced me to repress my emotions and my identity. I completed my B.S. in Kinesiology: Pre-Physical Therapy with a Health Education minor in three years and then earned my M.S. in Kinesiology: Exercise Science in one year, after which I published my thesis research. I was accepted into the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences- Austin, TX campus. I will graduate with my DPT at the end of November 2020. I met my now wife during my M.S. and we got married in 2019. In my free time I enjoy spending time outdoors with my wife and our two puppies.

Profession: Physical Therapist

Area(s) of Practice or Interest: Pelvic floor PT with an emphasis on the LGBTQ+ population and outpatient orthopedics so I can treat other types of impairments beyond the pelvic floor.

What does being ‘Out in Healthcare’ mean to you?: Being out in healthcare means being visible to others so the future generations have the representation I did not have growing up, and it means fighting for health equity, justice,  and healthcare inclusion for all marginalized communities. As someone that understands what it is like to have to deal with healthcare disparities simply based on my identity, being out in healthcare is taking on the system full force to improve the lives of my community and the lives of all marginalized communities.

What is one thing everyone should know about your identity?: I don’t like labeling my identity. I label my identity for the people that “have” to know. I am asexual, an identity that doesn’t get a lot of attention, and where I am on the asexual scale personally is that I have never been attracted to anyone I have ever met other than my wife. I am theoretically attracted to all identities of humans, hence why I use pansexual, but in reality, my asexual identity and my lack of interest in the labels another person uses are more who I am at my core (I respect everyone’s labels, but that doesn’t influence whether I am attracted to them or not).

How do you feel when your identity is included?: I feel seen and respected when my identity is included. I feel like my identity is as valuable as the heterosexual identity has been systematically respected historically.

What does “taking up space” mean to you?: Taking up space means taking ownership of the space that has historically given to heterosexual people but denied to members of the LGBTQ+ community. It means demanding that my identity and needs get as much attention as anyone else and it means fighting for more and more space for those that come after me. It is advocacy, it is radical, and it is vital to equity and justice for the LGBTQ+ community.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to healthcare workers who aren’t sure how to honor the identities of their patients?: Put the work in to find the answers to the questions they have about how to honor the identities of their patients. It is not the job of a marginalized community to educate the majority, but there are a number of people from marginalized communities that do fill the role of educator and their resources are plenty and widespread. All it takes is a little Google searching and/or social media perusing. Once they have answers to their questions, it is time to put in the work and put those answers into action. Once the action is being taken guess what? It’s time for more work. It is time to continue to learn and grow, and it is time to teach others and fight for the rights of their patients. The work never stops.

Has your identity influenced healthcare that you’ve received?:  My identity has caused me to deal with subpar care from my primary care provider who asked me about my sexual activity and then spent a lot of time asking if I could be pregnant (multiple questions about this, to which I answered no every time), didn’t ask me if I was using protection, and then was shocked when I told him I was in a relationship with a woman, which I only told him because he wouldn’t stop grilling me about pregnancy. The visit was really uncomfortable after that, and it felt like he was rushing to get my visit done as quickly as possible. Ultimately, I was not educated on STIs, asked if I felt safe in my relationship (thankfully my wife isn’t an abusive person), or anything else that would normally be routine.

Where can people find you?: I am on Instagram @lgbtqphysicaltherapists and my email is lgbtqphysicaltherapists@gmail.com.

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Out in Healthcare: Caroline Cuyler, LMSW

Name: Caroline Cuyler, LMSW

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Identity: Pansexual Cisgender Female

Background: I was born and raised in a suburb of Rochester, NY. I went to the University at Buffalo for my bachelors in psychology and did 1 year of my masters in social work at Hunter College in New York City and my 2nd year at the University at Buffalo. I now live in Rochester with my fiancé and our fur children. I have spent my career working with many different populations beginning with survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.  I am newly out as of about 2 years ago and it was a rollercoaster ride of an experience but, overall, quite positive. In my free time I enjoy camping, traveling and playing video games.

Profession: Medical Social Worker

Area(s) of Practice or Interest: I pretty much do it all in the inpatient medical world. The main unit that I work on is an adult medicine unit that is staffed by resident medical teams.

What does being ‘Out in Healthcare’ mean to you?: Being out in healthcare for me is about visibility and representation. I wear a rainbow pin on my nametag every day as visibility but also to signal to other LGTBQ folks that this is a safe space. I also see LGBTQ folks in all different roles in the hospital and it really creates a culture of inclusivity.

What is one thing everyone should know about your identity?: When trying to find the “right” identity for me, bisexual never felt right because it excluded folks that didn’t fall into the gender binary. I felt pansexual really suited me and my attraction to people for who they are rather than based on their gender. My fiancé is non-binary and is starting the first steps with top surgery and low dose hormones. I am proud that she is becoming the person she always knew she was.

How do you feel when your identity is included?: When my identity is included I feel seen. There is nothing better than when your identity is not something you have to explain or review over and over with others. That is why I focus so much on educating staff on practices such as asking for preferred pronouns and not assuming a patient is in a heterosexual relationship.

What does “taking up space” mean to you?: Taking up space is really about being your most authentic self, whatever that means for each person. I think it can be easy to shrink down who you are to make a situation feel more “comfortable” for everyone but when you take up space it paves a path for others to be able to also take up space. It’s a form of activism and advocacy for others as well as yourself.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to healthcare workers who aren’t sure how to honor the identities of their patients?: This is a part of my role every day as a social worker. Constantly educating staff about how to honor patient’s identities. My number one piece of advice is ASK QUESTIONS. Our patients are the experts on their own lives. You can never assume anything about anyone’s identity and just ignoring or not seeing parts of someone is not treating the whole patient. If you make a mistake about someone’s identity, apologize. We are all humans who make errors but it’s important to commit to correcting the mistake. I think it’s also important to take an intersectional approach to honoring our patient’s identities. Each person’s experience is unique and much of that has to do with how the different parts of our identity shape how we experience the world.

Has your identity influenced healthcare that you’ve received?: I have only been out for 2 years but even in that short amount of time some things have come up. Specifically around sexual health there is always the assumption that I am in a heterosexual relationship and constantly having to correct my providers can get a little exhausting.

Where can people find you?: I am on Instagram (private account) @cecuyler and if you are ever at Strong Memorial Hospital, I am sure you will see me floating around!

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Blog Out in Healthcare

Out in Healthcare: Enrique Puentes, OTS

Name: Enrique Puentes

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Identity: Gay

Background: Both of my parents immigrated from Colombia, and I was born in Washington, D.C. I grew up in Northern Virginia but have spent the last fourteen years living in Central Florida. I have spent the past eight years working in catastrophe property insurance but have always had a longing for wanting to be in a profession that helped others improve. I finally decided to make the career transition and now am in my second term of my master’s degree.

Profession: Occupational Therapy Student (MOT)

Area(s) of Practice or Interest: I have huge interests in both Mental Health and Inpatient Rehabilitation but am unsure of where I may ultimately end up.

What does being ‘Out in Healthcare’ mean to you?: For me, being out in healthcare for me means inviting people to see my truest self. Representation of LGBT people in healthcare is important because not only does it create safe spaces for clients to feel they are being advocated for, but it also can help demystify misunderstandings that non-queer people have of the very community that I am a part of. I see being out in healthcare as a form of activism for anyone who has ever felt either marginalized in a society that has long celebrated heteronormativity.  

What is one thing everyone should know about your identity?: I want people to know that I am embracing the best possible version of myself by being out as an individual in healthcare. It is important for me to not be ‘discrete’ about my sexuality, because by me fully loving all aspects of my identity, I can in turn emanate the same level of love and care for others. 

How do you feel when your identity is included?: When my identity is included as both brown and gay, I feel included and seen as an equal amongst a group.

What does “taking up space” mean to you?: Taking up space means feeling pride about my own visibility and feeling the confidence in the fact that my visibility matters. I unfortunately did not always think/feel this way, so it’s empowering for me to live in this truth.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to healthcare workers who aren’t sure how to honor the identities of their patients?: I think with any profession that involves interacting with all kinds of people (with varying cultures, backgrounds, political and religious beliefs, sexual orientations or gender expressions), we will almost certainly at some point, come to meet someone that we lack the education on, on how to honor and respect these individuals. Maintaining a sense of humility when engaging in these interactions is key to posturing yourself in a manner that is receptive to learning from these interactions. For healthcare professions in particular, it would behoove the practitioner to educate themselves on available resources that speaks on best care practices. Remember the importance of being client-centered in your approach and advocating for the client’s desires and wishes. 

Has your identity influenced healthcare that you’ve received?: My identity has impacted the healthcare that I have received. I have encountered practicing physicians who have not been aware of pre-exposure prophylaxis medications. It’s an odd feeling having to educate your own doctor on what this is and why you are requesting a prescription for this. I have also had experiences where healthcare professionals made assumptions of my sexual orientation. I greatly see the need for education of healthcare professions in working with LGBTQ clients.

Where can people find you?: Follow me on Instagram! (@ProudOTStudent)

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Blog Out in Healthcare

Out in Healthcare: Emma Baldwin, OTS

Name: Emma Baldwin

Identity: Cisgender gay/lesbian woman, White, Anti-racist

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Background: I am a 23-year-old born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois (the first suburb West of Chicago). I have been in Indiana for my years in higher education and I am ready to take on a new place following graduation! I studied kinesiology and studio art in undergrad, and was a life-long student-athlete. I love hiking, making art, and traveling, but I am the most passionate about advocating and learning. 

Profession: I am currently a 3rd year Occupational Therapy Student (3rd year), and an artist on the side.

Area(s) of Practice or Interest: Pediatric or adult home health, early intervention, hospice home health, sexuality and mental health, neuro… primarily emerging practice areas and places where I can take on leadership roles.

What does being ‘Out in Healthcare’ mean to you?: To me so far (newbie to healthcare over here), it has meant learning how to advocate for myself and others in my school, on my fieldworks, and beyond. I found ways in my school to advocate for bias-free language, better LGBTQIA+ client education, and many more purposes, all by trying to foster inclusive conversations and providing resources. I recognize that I don’t have all the answers but I sure do have a lot of ideas, and being ‘out in healthcare’ or ‘out’ at my school allows me to advocate first-hand. Shoutout to the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD) for helping support us students in doing so!

What is one thing everyone should know about your identity?: I think the interesting thing about my identity is that I can blend in. It can be a blessing at times and a curse in others, but it is definitely a privilege. It is challenging for me still to own who I am and vocally identify myself as queer in healthcare because no one asks. Sometimes breaking apart from the assumptions is more challenging than simply stating how I identify awkwardly off the bat… but it’s still a balancing game that I am working to figure out. 

How do you feel when your identity is included?: I think that goofy smile, one that you couldn’t wipe off my face if you tried, says it all. There is really no feeling like it.

What does “taking up space” mean to you?: To me, taking up space means being visibly unapologetically who I am. It means paving the way for future generations of me’s & you’s who don’t see ourselves represented in our fieldwork educators, healthcare providers, clients, and professors (etc.) as often. To me it means constantly navigating how to come out, when to come out, and how to feel okay with how people view me… yet it seems like the big key to all of that, is feeling okay with how I view myself. Doing this interview is just one step towards me being sure that I show my true colors and be my true self in my future work settings, for myself and for others.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to healthcare workers who aren’t sure how to honor the identities of their patients?: Simply asking questions and giving me the space to answer, before assuming literally ANYTHING. That is the difference between making me want to come back and avoiding it at all costs. It really is true that sometimes LGBTQIA+ individuals may not feel comfortable in receiving care from someone after assumptions are made. I recognize that healthcare is crucial and that seems crazy to say, but even knowing all of that, I have avoided seeing specific doctors or changed providers due to discomfort. To be as researched and well-informed as possible on how to make your LGBTQIA+ patients comfortable and feel included will go so far. There are so many resources out there.

Has your identity influenced healthcare that you’ve received?: Yes, and you don’t want to listen to the long uncomfortable stories. Simply asking questions at the very beginning (even on a form) could have prevented these unfortunate incidents.

Where can people find you?: You can email me at embaldwin00@gmail.com or follow me on instagram at @em.baldwin.00 & @emmabaldwindesigns. Really, feel free to reach out!!

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Blog Out in Healthcare

Out in Healthcare: Ryan Ellenbaum, MA CCC-SLP

Name: Ryan Ellenbaum 

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Identity: Cisgender Woman, Queer/Lesbian 

Background: I was born and raised in Philly, PA. I live with my wife and our two dogs. I love anything creative – lately I’ve been obsessed with weaving but I’ve dabbled in just about every textile craft. I also enjoy powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting. I studied Russian in undergrad which sparked my interest in communication sciences. Now I work with Russian-speaking families in early intervention and I’m co-owner of a private practice that specializes in gender affirming voice modification for the trans and non-binary community.

Profession: Speech-language Pathologist

Area(s) of Practice or Interest: Gender affirming voice modification, pediatrics, stroke rehabilitation.

What does being ‘Out in Healthcare’ mean to you?: The SLP field is full of compassionate and good hearted people but it can be a pretty homogeneous crowd in terms of race, gender, and sexual orientation. I’m proud to be a queer provider who is in tune with the issues that impact queer people seeking healthcare, especially working in trans voice. It’s important to me to make the services I provide a safe space that helps queer people access care that they might otherwise not feel comfortable seeking. 

What is one thing everyone should know about your identity?: I am generally “assumed straight” based on how I look and dress, which has been both a form of privilege and source of frustration since I came out when I was in high school. In my early intervention work, I am often subjected to unsolicited political opinions and people’s views on the LGBTQ community (while treating in families’ homes). This often forces me to make the split-second decision between being an advocate for my community and feeling safe at work. The message I would spread is not specific to me, but it is to never assume someone’s identity based on how they look. Challenge yourself to be inclusive and to provide space for people you meet to identify themselves as uniquely them, whatever the context.

How do you feel when your identity is included?: Safe and validated.

What does “taking up space” mean to you?:  Taking up space and being visible as a queer person is a form of advocacy. Queer people are everywhere, in every setting, in every town. The more visible we are, the more included we are in the conversation. The more included we are as healthcare providers, the more we can educate and guide our fellow providers to be more compassionate caregivers to patients. 

What is one piece of advice that you would give to healthcare workers who aren’t sure how to honor the identities of their patients?: Take the time to thoughtfully educate yourself. Seek out positive, affirming resources – especially ones that amplify real voices and experiences of the population you are seeking to learn about. Don’t make assumptions about your patients, give them the opportunity to identify themselves by using inclusive language and questioning.

Has your identity influenced healthcare that you’ve received?: I’ve been fortunate enough to not experience any healthcare nightmares directly related to my sexual orientation, but I always consider queer-friendliness or referrals from queer friends who have had good experiences when seeking healthcare providers. 

Where can people find you?: You can find me on Instagram at @authenticvoicesllc, my website www.authenticvoicesllc.com, or reach out by email to authenticvoicesllc@gmail.com!

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Blog Out in Healthcare

Out in Healthcare: Rhia Reed, OTS

Name: Rhia Reed

Pronouns: They/Them

Identity: I am a genderqueer, trans*, non-binary Korean-American with mixed heritage. I also identify as an anti-capitalist, intersectional feminist committed to the life-long work of anti-racism.

Background: My background has been primarily as a choreographer, dancer, and somatics practitioner. I am currently in school for Occupational Therapy.

Profession: Occupational Therapy

Area(s) of Practice or Interest: I’m most interested to work within the following areas of practice: mental health, neuro, palliative care, people experiencing homelessness, and currently/formerly incarcerated people.

What does being ‘Out in Healthcare’ mean to you?: Currently, I help organize a monthly zoom meeting for fellow trans/gender non-conforming (TGNC) occupational therapy students and practitioners; sign-up link below. On a more personal note, being out in healthcare means being a resource to colleagues, and one day as an advocate for my patients. I am the first trans* non-binary person that most of my classmates and professors have met, and I don’t take that lightly. I see these relationships as a huge opportunity to be a representative for the TGNC community. My hope is for my peers to feel comfortable to work through their questions and ignorance with me instead of with future TGNC patients. Once I become a clinician, I hope to create a safe space for all of my patients, especially those of trans experience. My long-term goal is to continue my work as an advocate for trans patients within the scope of occupational therapy and the greater healthcare field.

What is one thing everyone should know about your identity?: I love to laugh at myself as much as I take my identity seriously. Sometimes I joke that my gender identity is simply Tired. On other days it feels Expansive. Most days it feels Fluid.

How do you feel when your identity is included?: Whew, what a question! It is impactful to feel seen! Moments where I don’t have to direct effort to be visible or taken seriously, I feel like I can direct my energy toward all of the other things that I am passionate about. I don’t need others to validate my identity, but it’s definitely a nice surprise when the things that make me me are seen and valued. It makes me feel safer to be me.

What does “taking up space” mean to you?: First, I think of the word marginalized and what that means in a literal sense. If you’re running out of space when writing on lined paper, you end up writing in the margins. “Taking up space” means putting whatever has been relegated to the margins front and center. Pragmatically, this means reallocation of opportunities, attention, time, money, access, and resources. It’s worth mentioning that taking up space isn’t something to apologize for or feel bad about. I love to loudly celebrate members of the Queer, TGNC community.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to healthcare workers who aren’t sure how to honor the identities of their patients?: Great question! Ask questions and be patient with yourself while you are learning something new. Practice compassion and release shame. When getting things wrong, we often feel ashamed, but everyone makes mistakes. Shame bends a person’s attention inward toward their shortcomings. Instead, compassion maintains attention outward at the person they are helping. Shame is just a story we tell ourselves about ourselves to keep us small: “I messed up and I’m terrible.” Self-compassion is a different narrative: “I messed up and I’m learning. I can try again.” Compassion and mindfulness propel us to say “I messed up, and I see how my actions caused harm. I want to center that person’s experience instead of focusing on my mistake.”

Has your identity influenced healthcare that you’ve received?: Yes…I’ll keep it brief by saying that sometimes I often allow myself to be misgendered and avoid disclosing my identity out of self-preservation.

Where can people find you?: mreed9@lsuhsc.edu, and here’s the sign-up sheet for the monthly TGNC OT meeting: Click here!

Categories
Blog Out in Healthcare

Out in Healthcare: Oliver Hoad, OTS

Name: Oliver Hoad

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Identity: Queer Trans Man

Background: I’m 23 and grew up in a coastal town on the east coast of Australia called Coffs Harbour. I am currently in the second year of my Bachelor of Occupational Therapy. I came out as bisexual when I was in high school, but as I grew into my identity I realised that queer was a better fit. I came out as trans in 2018 which was a huge change for everyone in my life but luckily it has been a mostly positive one! Where I live is fairly regional, and there is not a lot of acceptance towards the queer community so unfortunately there are not many opportunities for interaction with other queer people, especially those my age. When I’m not studying I am a member of a group for LGBTQIA+ young people, a peer educator for a sexual health organisation and enjoy gaming, baking and going to the beach.

Profession: I am an Occupational Therapy student and I teach primary school (elementary school) kids how to create video games afterschool on the side!

Area(s) of Practice or Interest: Interested in sexual health and paediatrics/adolescents.

What does being ‘Out in Healthcare’ mean to you?: Australia is not very progressive when it comes to the healthcare of transgender people. After I came out and had to go to the emergency department of the hospital I told them I was trans and that my name was Oliver yet the doctor continued to address me by my deadname* and female pronouns. Being out in healthcare would allow me to reduce the chances of this happening to other trans people, particularly youth, and would increase attendance and inclusivity within spaces that cause so much anxiety for young people.

What is one thing everyone should know about your identity?: People should know that we are not all the same and we do not have to all be the same. Not all trans people look like the stereotypical trans man or trans woman that may be portrayed in the media, and a lot of us have values and beliefs that are different from each other. That is ok and it doesn’t make someone any less trans.

How do you feel when your identity is included?: I feel hopeful for the future. The inclusion of trans people in different conversations is so important. It shouldn’t be a question whether or not to include us in conversation whether it be political, health related, in sports, or religion, and when this occurs it feels like progress is being made.

What does “taking up space” mean to you?: As queer people, we are often told that we are taking up too much space. We are told that we are too visible within the media, we should be so “gay” in public, that our stories are being told too often and we are asked why we need a whole month to celebrate our community and their history when it “isn’t necessary”. These opinions of individuals are all such negative things that are brought up way too often! However, they bring about important conversations between two communities that may not occur if our presence wasn’t questioned so often. The space that we take up is so important even if other people don’t think that it is.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to healthcare workers who aren’t sure how to honour the identities of their patients?: Ask as many questions as possible. Ask what your patient they are comfortable with, what their pronouns are, and if they would like you to know anything about their identity. In saying that, also be respectful when asking the questions. Oh and don’t always assume that somebody fits into a binary gender simply because that is how they present!

Has your identity influenced healthcare that you’ve received?: It has definitely influenced my healthcare experience, probably being trans more than anything else. Finding a doctor who is LGBTQIA+ friendly and educated in transgender medicine is difficult in a regional area so you have to go in blind and hope for the best. There are also limited services available in these areas for transgender healthcare. In the past, I was often misgendered and called my deadname* even after telling doctors my preferred name and pronouns which is unfortunately a common problem for trans youth and people who are transitioning, especially in regional and rural areas like the one I live in. Luckily now I have found a good network of supportive doctors and allied health professionals that are educated in the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Where can people find you?: You can find me on Instagram @onespicyegg or via email at olivermaxwellhoad@outlook.com

*Deadname: A deadname is the birth name of someone who has changed it. The term is especially used in the LGBTQ+ community by people who are transgender and elect to go by their chosen name instead of their given name. (Resource)

Deadnaming: Deadnaming occurs when someone, intentionally or not, refers to a person who’s transgender by the name they used before they transitioned. You may also hear it described as referring to someone by their “birth name” or their “given name.” (Resource)

Categories
Blog

OT and Transfeminine Equipment: Breast Forms, Gaffs, and Tucking Oh My!

Transfeminine equipment or equipment for those with feminine gender expression among people assigned a male sex at birth, particularly transgender and gender non-conforming individuals may include: prostheses, breast forms, gaff, tape, tucking, padding.

Padding: Padding refers to the use of undergarments to create the appearance of larger breasts, hips or buttocks. Padding may also assist in minimizing dysphoria.

            Some padding-specific garments include:

–       Padded undergarments: Typically, useful for facilitating appearance of wide hips or full buttocks

–       Bras with pockets: Also known as mastectomy bras, they are designed to accommodate breast forms and other associated prostheses

–       Padded bras: May be preferable if breast growth is present but not at the desired size.

Prostheses: An artificial body part(s), typically made from plastics, lightweight metals, or composites. May be formed to represent a breasts, penis, scrotum, or other anatomy.

Breast forms: Prostheses that have the appearance of breasts. Typically made of soft silicone gel and adhere to one’s body or are placed in a bra. Can be considered a form of padding.

Tucking: Tucking is the practice of arranging and supporting external genitals between the legs, including the penis, scrotum, and testicles so they are not visible in clothing. There are many ways to tuck, such as pushing the penis and other anatomy between your legs and then pulling on a pair of undergarments, to tucking the testicles inside of you. People tuck for many different reasons. One might tuck in order to feel more at ease in their body (minimize dysphoria), to feel more comfortable in their clothing, or to facilitate affirmation as one’s gender. There is minimal research on the safety of tucking.

Gaff: compression underwear that minimizes the appearance of a penis, scrotum, and testicles.

Tape: tape may be used with or instead of a gaff to “tuck” or minimize the appearance of the penis, scrotum, and testicles.

Important gaff considerations:

o Choosing the right size gaff is like choosing the right size underwear. One can also measure the circumference of their waist, just above the hips for correct sizing.

o Safe tucking/gaff techniques mirror those of binding:

o Minimize frequency of wearing, take breaks throughout the week (although it may not be ideal, it is particularly important for involved anatomical and physiological systems). Reducing the intensity of wearing (daytime donning) can also reduce risk of negative effects, though not as significantly as reducing the frequency.

o Minimize duration of wearing, as in reducing the wear time throughout the years. Bottom surgery is an alternate to tucking, however it is important to note that not every individual that tucks will want bottom surgery, nor will all individuals have access to the procedure (cost, access to healthcare, etc.)

o Unsafe tucking can affect the circulatory system, musculoskeletal anatomy, fertility issues, sex and intimacy, and skin integrity.

Gaff/ tucking garment maintenance: First and foremost, follow the washing/care instructions on the packaging/garment. In general, hand washing is the best. Avoid using bleach and/or a dryer as they accelerate material breakdown/ reduce integrity of the material. Pay special attention to skin folds, folding in the tucking garments (gaffs), bulging skin adjacent to the gaff or selected garment, redness, skin abnormalities, and prolonged indentations. Pay extra attention to the effects of the trans affirming/generally affirming care that you provide.  

The risks and contraindications are 𝕒𝕝𝕞𝕠𝕤𝕥 𝕒𝕝𝕨𝕒𝕪𝕤 𝕒 𝕣𝕖𝕤𝕦𝕝𝕥 𝕠𝕗 𝕦𝕟𝕤𝕒𝕗𝕖 𝕥𝕦𝕔𝕜𝕚𝕟𝕘 and 𝕒 𝕣𝕖𝕤𝕦𝕝𝕥 𝕠𝕗 𝕒 𝕙𝕖𝕒𝕝𝕥𝕙 𝕤𝕪𝕤𝕥𝕖𝕞 𝕥𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕗𝕒𝕚𝕝𝕖𝕕 𝕒𝕥 𝕞𝕖𝕖𝕥𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕒𝕟 𝕚𝕟𝕕𝕚𝕧𝕚𝕕𝕦𝕒𝕝𝕤 𝕟𝕖𝕖𝕕𝕤. We need to have the knowledge based to educate our clients on safe tucking practices as healthcare provides and 𝕖𝕤𝕡𝕖𝕔𝕚𝕒𝕝𝕝𝕪 as occupational therapists. HELLO!! ADLS!! DRESSING!! Anotha time for the people in the back: we alllll know that our professors/we talk about dressing all of the time throughout our programs and throughout providing care 𝕒𝕔𝕣𝕠𝕤𝕤 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕝𝕚𝕗𝕖𝕤𝕡𝕒𝕟. That’s right peds friends, I’m calling you in on this too. You may have a child, adolescent, or young adult that is going to need 𝕪𝕠𝕦 to educate them on safe tucking practices.