In 2022, more than a dozen states are restricting access to gender health care for kids. This past legislative session, members of the Children’s Minnesota gender health team showed up at the state capitol in a big way to ensure gender health care remains accessible in Minnesota.
Two of our leaders discuss why that’s so important and how they personally support the LGBTQ+ community.
- James Burroughs, (JB) (he/him), is senior vice president of government and community relations, and chief equity and inclusion officer at Children’s Minnesota.
- Marc Gorelick, MD, (MG) (he/him), is president and chief executive officer (CEO) at Children’s Minnesota.
Dr. Angela Kade Goepferd, (they/she), medical director of the Gender Health program at Children’s Minnesota, has been named grand marshal of this year’s Pride parade. Thoughts?
JB: I was doubly excited to hear that Angela was named grand marshal. I’ve celebrated Pride in Minneapolis for 20 years and have never known the grand marshal personally until now. I’m even more excited for people to learn more about who Angela is and the work they do.
Angela helps all of us understand the importance of gender health care. That’s an essential part of a larger effort to make sure all our patients and families have the same access to health care and are treated with respect and dignity.
MG: It’s great to see Angela recognized in this way. By extension, the important work they and the gender health team do is also being recognized. They’ve been great advocates for LGBTQ young people. Angela leading the Pride parade elevates that advocacy even more. And it raises awareness about the importance of paying attention to the unique challenges faced by many kids seeking gender-affirming care.
Angela has been visionary in many ways. They were on the forefront in the creation of our gender health program in 2019. They have continued to be incredibly courageous but also incredibly principled in advocating for gender-diverse young people and their right to receive gender health care.
Why is a children’s health system like Children’s Minnesota vocal on gender health issues?
MG: There’s a major mental health crisis among young people right now. LGBTQ+ kids are disproportionately affected by that. They’re at higher risk of depression, anxiety and suicide. Children’s Minnesota is a health system that cares for all kids, so that includes kids who are LGBTQ+. Part of that care is advocating on their behalf to ensure their health needs are being met.
Second, many states are limiting gender health care, including some of our neighbors: Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota. We need to keep speaking up about the importance of gender health care. Kids need to be able to have access to it.
JB: If we’re going to be every family’s partner in raising healthier children, which is our vision at Children’s Minnesota, families with kids who need gender-affirming care are part of that. Our vision isn’t to provide care for some groups of kids but not others. That would be morally wrong. And it’d be malpractice. Children’s Minnesota exists to make sure all kids, including kids with gender health needs, are getting the care, support and resources they need so they can thrive.
MG: Also, we know that one of the reasons LGBTQ+ youth have higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide is because they’re marginalized by society. Speaking up for them, raising awareness about their needs and the issues they face, helps address one root cause of that marginalization.
How do you support the LGBTQ+ community?
MG: By being a visible and vocal supporter of our LGBTQ+ staff and the work they’re doing. By promoting a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace and community, which is an important part of our strategic plan. By ensuring that I use correct pronouns and try to normalize that behavior here at Children’s Minnesota. By speaking up about issues that matter to LGBTQ+ young people and by ensuring our gender health program continues to serve them and their families.
JB: By listening and learning. Learning about the LGBTQ community and listening to how I can be supportive. I also show up by not naming myself as an ally and instead showing my support through my actions. Too many times we come to a group and say we’re an ally. We claim it as opposed to listening and learning how we can be supportive.
Sometimes that means putting ourselves in new or potentially uncomfortable situations. When I first moved to Minnesota, I looked for places that played good house music, the kind I grew up listening to in Detroit. I told Angela that I had gone to a gay bar to listen to music and that I felt really out of my comfort zone. But then I realized, I have to show up in places and spaces where I’m uncomfortable. It’s all part of the learning process. You can’t just say you’re an ally. You have to show it through action.
As Dr. Goepferd says in a recent blog, their selection as the 2023 Grand Marshal for Twin Cities Pride “should serve as a visible reminder to the young people of this community that they belong, and they deserve access to the health care they need to thrive.”
There is a lot of misinformation about what gender health means; what our program does and doesn’t do. To learn more, please visit Gender Health Program for Children | Children’s Minnesota (childrensmn.org).