Queer healthcare professional: Coming out

Ash Alpert (they/them) is a physician and trans oncology researcher at Yale Cancer Center. Ash’s article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology describes their response to meeting a queer couple in the oncology clinic. The encounter was made more comfortable for the couple, as well as Ash, because of Ash’s queer identity and Ash’s decision to come out. In the article Ash discusses their experience of being misgendered at work and how cishet colleagues aren’t expected to routinely hide parts of their identities.

Working within a system that doesn’t acknowledge my existence as a queer and non-binary person creates a sense of being disconnected from my day-to-day life. Part of me stays hidden while the outside version puts on work clothes and tries to perform well every day in my hematology and medical oncology fellowship.

Coming out to patients by healthcare professionals is relatively rare, but it can make a big difference to care.

LGBTQ+ patients tell me that physicians coming out to them is a silver lining around the very gray cloud of transphobia and homophobia. I wrote this piece to be an example, a corollary to the research I do. I didn’t expect to write about what happened in me when I connected to this patient and her partner and allowed some hidden parts of me to shine on the surface—safe, happy, and warm.

Read the full open access article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Source: Alpert AB. Coming Out in the Exam Room. J Clin Oncol. 2020 Apr 10;38(11):1246-1247. doi: 10.1200/JCO.19.01428.