Director’s Reflections: Pride Month

It is my privilege this month to post about Pride Month. When people think about Johns Hopkins Medicine and LGBTQ issues, the entry point is often colored by the vocal and public Paul McHugh, former head of the Department of Psychiatry, who viewed gender dysphoria as a psychological problem, not a biological phenomenon—asserting that patients could be cured without gender-affirming therapy. While it is true that universities have to support academic freedom and expression of unpopular views, his public stance substantially contributed to negative views regarding Hopkins and the LGBTQ community. Thus, one person’s stance created an outsized and inaccurate view of us as a total entity. Luckily for us, times have changed. Last summer, Hopkins opened a transgender health service and accompanying surgical program—a multi-departmental collaboration advancing gender affirming treatments.  We are proud to have many important LGBTQ, faculty, staff and, now, an openly gay leader of our health system, President Kevin Sowers.

Like all forms of diversity, my belief is that we will be a stronger department as we become more diverse. Our department embraces the LGBTQ community as learners, physicians, nurses, staff and patients. We are working to develop a larger presence for LGBTQ trainees in our residency program. When the Iowa Supreme Court affirmed the right to gay marriage, the university saw a fortified influx of talented faculty candidates, affirming for me the immediate advantages of a culture of acceptance and diversity.

As Pride celebrations continue to unfold across the country, I congratulate the gay rights community on the enormous strides that they have made in the past decade. In many ways, Pride Month celebrates an ongoing arc of history that started with the civil rights movement, propelled the women’s rights movement (be sure to see the new Ruth Bader Ginsburg movie if you haven’t already) and now concentrates on equality for members of the LGBTQ community. Thank you for being part of a wonderful and welcoming department.