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Blog Out in Healthcare

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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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!

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Blog Out in Healthcare

Out in Healthcare: Molly Sabido PA, PA-C

Name: Molly Sabido


Pronouns: She/her/hers


Identity: Panromantic, asexual spectrum


Background: I was born and raised in Rochester NY where my whole family is from. Growing up I always wanted to be in medicine because I’m passionate about human connection and the human body. As soon as I researched the PA profession I knew it was a perfect fit; it is versatile, allows me a wonderful work/life balance, and provides abundant opportunities to learn and grow every day. I went to PA school at D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY and now I work at a community hospital back home in Rochester. Outside of work I love to draw, hike, sing, and spend as much time as possible with my friends and family.


Profession: Physician Assistant


Area of practice: Hospital medicine

What does being out in healthcare means to you?: I am a person who is proud to display rainbows on my ID badge and my identity in the queer community isn’t something I shy away from, especially at work. I truly believe that love is love, and this openness is something I talk about often and freely. I don’t hold myself back from ignorant people, instead leaning into my queer identity as a tool to educate. I am living proof that kindness and compassion can exist within any body. I have had coworkers thank me for breaking down their own stereotypes about queer folx. I have had patients thank me for creating a safe space to relax and be themselves in an otherwise scary and unfamiliar environment. I am fortunate to be a feminine, straight passing cis woman and I recognize the ease at which I can walk through the world. It is my hope that by gently challenging people’s preconceived notions someday everyone in the queer community will be met with love and acceptance, no matter their identity or outward presentation.


What is one thing everyone should know about your identity?: We ace (asexual) folx don’t get a lot of attention! This is a new area of my identity that I’ve recently been exploring and coming to terms with. Even writing this gives me some anxiety but the more asexuality is talked about, the more normal it becomes, the more people will understand it and maybe even recognize it within themselves. One important thing to know is that asexuality really is a spectrum and people experience it very differently. For me, being asexual and panromantic means I experience romantic attraction to people of all genders, and I very rarely experience sexual attraction (this is where the spectrum comes in). Sex is the least interesting and stimulating part of a relationship; I just don’t get much out of it. I still enjoy physical intimacy, but mostly because it facilitates emotional intimacy. I’m still capable of loving, fulfilling romantic relationships built on solid communication and clear expectations. For a long time I saw my asexuality as something that needed to be fixed or worked through, and it caused a lot of inner turmoil. But I’m finally learning that it is a beautiful part of my identity and something to embrace, not hide from! 

How do you feel when your identity is included?: Historically, the media overwhelmingly acknowledges gay, straight, and bisexual. Lately, it seems like more shows/movies mention pansexuality (Schitts Creek) which is gratifying because it makes me feel really seen and it also makes “pan” a more commonly recognized concept (no, I’m not attracted to skillets or bread). Asexuality however doesn’t get much recognition so my expectations are usually really low when I’m consuming media, and whenever it’s included it’s a lovely little treat. I recently watched a show on Netflix called Sex Education (WATCH IT) and when they had a subplot about an asexual girl I legitimately cried. Generally, I do think we have a lot of work to do in recognizing sexual and romantic attraction are very separate for some people.

What does “taking up space” mean to you?: Simple. This means I can freely be myself in any room I walk into. When I picture myself taking up space I am not minimizing myself. I am proud to be queer regardless of who is in that room with me. Even in situations where people might not understand me, I stay true to myself. I wear that rainbow on my badge and show it off rather that hide.

What is one piece of advice that I would give to healthcare workers who aren’t sure how to honor the identities of their patients?: Most of my coworkers understand and acknowledge my identity because it revolves around who I date. However, some of them still really struggle with understanding trans/non-binary/non-conforming folx and honoring pronouns or addressing sexuality is uncomfortable for them. My advice is this: when it comes to gender identity, a patient’s pronouns aren’t up to you, they are up to the patient. Your job as a healthcare worker is to create safe spaces for patients where they feel comfortable and taken care of, not further isolated by ignorance. Using correct pronouns is an extremely simple way to facilitate a sense of safety and trust. In regards to sexuality, if you aren’t comfortable addressing this topic, then don’t bring it up, just be a kind human and let someone else be a queer ally. If you absolutely have to bring it up because it’s relevant to your job, then do it in a neutral, non-judgmental way please.

Has your identity influenced healthcare that you have received?: Fortunately, no!  

Where you can find Molly:
Instagram: @mollysabidi AND @molly_makes_things

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Blog Out in Healthcare

Out in Healthcare

Hey friends!! I’m so excited to share this new series with you. This is something that I’ve been pondering and working on for a while, and here it is! The Out in Healthcare series!🌈

I wanted to do it right and make sure my intentions are known. I want to increase the visibility of LGBTQIA+ healthcare providers. I want you all to know we ARE taking up space. We may even look just like you do. You may not know our identities, but each one of the interviewees has agreed to visible. We hope that if you’re a student, practitioner, or are even contemplating joining the healthcare field, that you know you’re not alone. We hope that through this series, you will see yourself. We hope that you will see that you can do it to, and that it’s so important for you to take up space and just BE (if it’s safe and you’re ready). I will be featuring healthcare providers from ALL professions. If you know anyone that you think would like to participate, please connect them to me 💖 Get ready to meet the first healthcare hero in this series!

#OutinHealthcare