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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: 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)