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The Robert G. Fenley Writing Awards: General Staff Writing – Silver

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“Transforming Transgender Care”
By Stephanie Dutchen
Harvard Medical School

“When Perry Cohen experienced an urgent health concern earlier this year, his town’s only care provider who specializes in working with LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) patients wasn’t available to see him.

“He went to a different doctor, then to a second. Both times, when the providers learned that Cohen is transgender, ‘their faces fell,’ he recalled.

“‘It wasn’t about malice; it wasn’t about not affirming me,’ he said, ‘but rather, they had this look of, ‘Oh, no, I don’t know if I’ll be able to help this patient.’ They didn’t want to get it wrong, but they were out of their element.’”

This article describes the launch of an initiative at Harvard Medical School to incorporate more material on sexual and gender minority health into its core medical education curriculum with a primary goal of improving transgender care in the HMS community and beyond. Our writer drew out personal stories from key sources, including a member of the family whose donation made the initiative possible, to humanize and ground the piece.

What was the most impactful part of your award-winning entry?

Showing that HMS is a leader in improving care for underserved patient populations, including LGBT+ communities, starting at the roots: medical education and research equity.

What was the biggest challenge in writing about this topic?

Gaining the trust of our sources and creating a compelling story from what could have been a dry report.

Contact
Stephanie Dutchen, stephanie_dutchen@hms.harvard.edu 
 

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