Guest Blog: Dr. Teddy Goetz on Gender-Affirming Care
As part of PRMS’ ongoing efforts to support the behavioral healthcare community and to promote the organizations that work towards this mission, we are pleased to highlight the Association of LGBTQ+ Psychiatrists (AGLP) and Dr. Teddy Goetz (they/them), PGY-3 resident at the University of Pennsylvania Psychiatric Resident Training Program in Philadelphia, PA, as our featured guest blogger. Dr. Goetz shares more about their research and award experience.
I began working on a paper titled, “‘Coming home to my body’: A qualitative exploration of gender-affirming care-seeking and mental health” almost three years before having the privilege to deliver the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health Outstanding Resident Paper Award 2023 presentation at the Association of LGBTQ+ Mental Health Association (AGLP) Annual Meeting in conjunction with the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Annual Meeting this past May. Non-researchers rarely realize how long it takes to go from idea to data collection to sharing the findings with the world. This latency, inherently part of a peer-review process, feels particularly strange when working in transgender, non-binary, and/or gender expansive (TNG) health – a clinical and research area that is currently so societally fraught. The media and legislative narratives race forward, resulting in projects being published into a different world than that in which they were conceptualized and conducted. TNG health disparities are much more broadly recognized now than when I began conducting research on gender-affirming care a decade ago, and targeted efforts to legislate us out of existence have intensified. It is disorienting to consider how many ways societal conversations about gender have simultaneously progressed and regressed in such a relatively short period.
At the APA 2023 Annual Meeting, I had the privilege of additionally talking about my forthcoming textbook, Gender-Affirming Psychiatric Care (APA Publishing, 2023), and on supporting systemically marginalized and excluded medical trainees, as well as presenting a poster on intersecting TNG and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder experiences. I did not accidentally stumble into this niche – my passion for these concerns is personal. I am an openly trans/non-binary, queer, neurodivergent, chronically ill, Jewish resident psychiatrist and researcher; I am proud. Further, my intersectional perspectives make me a better doctor and investigator, and it was a joy and an honor to exclusively co-present at this meeting with colleagues who brought shared and distinct intersectional-lived experiences to the podium. Scientific objectivity is a fallacy, as I believe our personal perspective directs the questions that we ask, which in turn informs the answers we find. Professional expertise and personal experience are synergistic. The opportunity to learn from such a nexus is a profound gift.
This was my first in-person conference since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States in 2020, and I spent it grappling with uncertainty about such future opportunities. What does it mean to be an expert in the field of TNG health, unable to present such work at certain conferences, afraid to travel to hostile environments? For my Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) colleagues, such safety concerns are compounded. Welcoming, even prioritizing, diversity in name does nothing if we cannot safely get into the room. Alternatively, dedicated community spaces – like the AGLP – that provide opportunities for networking, mentorship, education, scholarship, and collaboration are profoundly healing. Attending the AGLP conference events held in San Francisco in May, I felt safe and seen. Together we were able to not only hold space for the pain and uncertainty so many carried into those rooms, but also join in celebration: for how many of us there are now, for those who came before, and for the future we are working to actualize. Thank you to PRMS for sponsoring the AGLP and investing in those dreams.
Learn more about Dr. Goetz at www.teddygoetz.com and read Dr. Goetz’ work on gender-affirming care, “Coming home to my body,” here.
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