National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11, is a day in which many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) individuals celebrate coming out, and many may choose to come out for the first time on this day. We at Children’s Minnesota recognize National Coming Out Day because showing up as your authentic self requires bravery and resilience, especially for LGBTQ youth.
To celebrate, we sat down with Ari Elfenbein, an emergency medical technician (EMT) in the emergency department (ED) in Minneapolis, proud member of Children’s Minnesota’s PRIDE employee resource group (ERG) and an ally to all LGBTQ people. In the Minneapolis ED, Ari has done a lot of work to make Children’s Minnesota a welcoming place when it comes to names and pronouns.
Read on to get to know Ari!
What is your favorite part about working at Children’s Minnesota?
My favorite part about working at Children’s Minnesota is my incredible coworkers! Each of my coworkers have strengths that are unique and invaluable in differing situations, and I have been so lucky as to learn from them over the past two years how to provide exceptional patient care.
What does National Coming Out Day mean to you in terms of inclusivity in health care?
National Coming Out Day is about celebrating being who you are unapologetically. At Children’s Minnesota, we celebrate [this day] to show our patients, family and staff that they will be welcomed with open arms and provided with high-quality, gender-affirming care.
Why is addressing patients/families by their preferred pronoun important to you?
One of the best ways we can show others that we respect and support them is by consistently using their names and pronouns. A study conducted by the Trevor Project in 2020 found that: “LGBTQ youth who had access to spaces that affirmed their sexual orientation and gender identity reported lower rates of attempting suicide.”
Providing gender-affirming care is an essential component of caring for the wonderfully diverse patient population we see at Children’s Minnesota. I believe this starts with making every effort to make our patients feel safe and supported through the use of their desired names and pronouns.
In what ways do you feel more connected to our LGBTQIA+ patients & families?
I love wearing my pronouns on my badge at work and asking my patients what name they like to be called when I meet them! These things allow my patients and their families to feel comfortable being themselves and focus on whatever illness or injury they are being seen for, rather than worrying about being misgendered or called the wrong name. It also opens up the door for conversations with patients and families about the importance of pronoun usage, and how we can all continue learning how best to support the adolescents in our lives. We all have the ability to be a supportive person in the life of a young person, and that can be lifesaving!
What do you think makes kids amazing?
I think kids are amazing because they see the world through a unique lens and often have much to teach us about hope, strength and resilience!