Pride Month: Progress made, yet opportunities remain
A Pride Month Q&A With Andrew Chang, Market President, Florida & South Carolina
How do you celebrate Pride and what does it mean to you?
Pride is a celebration with friends and family and an opportunity to show others what our community is all about in terms of inclusiveness, diversity, and love. My husband, Jeff, and I typically celebrate by attending our local Come Out with Pride that actually happens in October in celebration of national Coming Out Day, October 11th. It is always packed with excitement and events for all ages.
What can people in healthcare do this Pride Month to raise awareness about important issues that impact the global LGBTQ community?
One issue that deserves a lot more attention is the experiences that our trans brothers and sisters are experiencing. There are so many attacks both politically and physically happening to this beautiful community that needs our support, our votes, and our love. In healthcare we are guided by the mission to treat everyone with dignity, with equality, and without judgment. Yet there are laws not allowing them to progress in their gender affirming surgeries, to not be able to receive proper medical care, and much more. It is truly heartbreaking to see a lack of inclusion for this community across not only America but in the world.
What are some strategies clinicians and medical staff can follow to promote a positive and healthy environment for colleagues and patients who are LGBTQ?
I have enjoyed seeing the progress some clinicians and practices have made in this space and still see so much room for improvement. Simple changes such as asking preferred pronouns for patients and to include options for salutation outside of only Mr/Ms/Mrs. Having your staff educated on LGBTQ+ issues as they pertain to healthcare and understanding holistic approaches to be inclusive of this community are important as well. Even something as simple as having diverse magazines that speak to our community (and others) would speak volumes to the environment a clinic can have.
Is there an important memory, anecdote, or experience as an LGBTQ individual or ally you’d like to share?
A very wise friend once suggested changing the phrase of “coming out” because that puts the responsibility on us LGBTQ individuals. It also can be exhausting as well as uncomfortable in certain situations to come out. So instead of that framing, my friend suggested I call it “letting someone in." It has been such a small shift in mental mindset since hearing this suggestion and has made me feel more comfortable when I don’t tell people about my sexual orientation for reasons I have. It also resets it from an exhausting task to a gesture of comfort around whom you might be speaking to.