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The Atomic Girl Who Roamed the Buckeye State

So… What does a lead trainer do?

 

Actually, let me start earlier.

 

I grew up next door to one of the largest nuclear waste sites in America. Just down the road from the birthplace of the Nagasaki bomb is Richland, Washington. I went to high school there. I was a Bomber. Yup, we’re the Richland Bombers. Google that. Crazy, right? I know – I’m totally mortified.

 

On top of that, eastern Washington isn’t exactly a bastion of progressive thought. I knew that I was different than the other folks in my hometown, but I became adept at repressing my truth: That I was a trans woman. Trying to hold it all in and “just be normal” got harder and harder as time passed.

 

I went to college north of Seattle in the mid-90s. My chosen family from those days is still dear to me, and I still blather on about working at my college radio station 20 years later. Unfortunately, I was working overtime to rationalize away my authentic identity.

 

In 1999 I decided to go to graduate school at Ohio State. I fell in love, got married, and had kids. I started teaching at colleges all over Ohio, jogging non-stop on the adjunct treadmill. I still hadn’t dealt with who I really was. Finally, my psychological dams burst. The floods came. I was trans. I needed to transition.

 

That was six years ago. My marriage ended. Things were weird with my family for a while, but I’m lucky. My parents, my siblings, and my children support me. I ended up in Columbus for good. I’ve been able to find steady work and stable housing. I enjoy an immense amount of privilege. I’m white. I had the opportunity to get formally educated. I got established in my career before I transitioned. I live in a relatively trans-friendly city, and so on. I feel a responsibility to work towards a future where it’s commonplace for every LGBTQ person to have a safe environment, a job with a living wage, full citizenship, access to affordable and culturally humble health care, and the autonomy to live authentically.

 

So what does a lead trainer do?

 

I tell people that I “teach people how to not be jerks to LGBTQ people.” That’s an oversimplification, but it’s essentially true. I deliver LGBTQ cultural humility training to Equitas Health staff across Ohio, as well as to outside organizations. Particularly in health care settings, the basic premise is that if you train providers about how to create more welcoming and inclusive environments for LGBTQ folks, people from our community will have more positive experiences and then will be more likely to stay linked to care. In addition to that I do some writing and I help out with other initiatives like our statewide LGBTQ Provider Guide, our social media presence, and community engagement activities like the Rural Voices Summit and our annual Transforming Care Conference.

 

I love this job because it gives me the chance to take tangible action to help out my community. If you’d like to know more about what I do, or about the services the Institute can provide, email me at ramonapeel@equitashealth.com.

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