(614) 929-8894 equitasinstitute@equitashealth.com Make a Donation

Breakout Session 2a

“Navigating Coming Out: A Journey of Self-Discovery & Understanding ” Panel featuring Jody Davis, RN, MSW, LISW,  Theodore Hutchinson, PhD, and Marek Samblanet, MSRS. Moderated by Susan Young, PhD and Michelle Pride, PhD.

Jody Davis, RN, MSW, LISW (she/her/hers) has worked in the nursing and mental health fields for more than 10 years. She earned her Bachelors in Psychology from the University of Cincinnati, her associate degree in Nursing from the Christ College, and a Master’s degree in Social Work from The Ohio State University. She has psychiatric nursing experience with adults and adolescents both inpatient and in the clinic setting, with a focus on the forensic population. As a licensed social worker, Jody has directed an agency quality program, advocated on behalf of the LGBTQ population here in Central Ohio, and worked with a variety of adult clients in primary care and social service settings. She has experience with motivational interviewing, solution-focused and cognitive therapies to help clients cope with adversity and foster positive change in their lives. Jody publicly came out as a Transgender female in 2014, and has experience with the emotional, physical, social and spiritual aspects of gender transition. She periodically leads presentations and workshops related to aspects of life as a trans / gender non-conforming / queer person, and advocates for that population at the micro and macro levels.


Dr. Theodore J. Hutchinson (he/him/his) holds the B.A. in Philosophy and the M.Ed. in Educational Psychology and School Counseling from the University of Washington. With the Ph.D. in Social Foundations and the Philosophy of Education from the University of Washington, Dr. Hutchinson teaches courses in the Critical Cultural Studies in Education program. His major research interests include philosophies of education, the radical democratic community, anti-bias education, and pluralism (race, social class, gender and sexual orientation). Dr. Hutchinson also pursues scholarship using philosophical and narrative inquiry. Theo announced the affirmation of his transmale gender–socially, physically, legally and professionally–in January 2016. He is involved in providing LGBTQ Safe Zone trainings and more specifically, as an advocate and educator addressing issues impacting transgender and gender non-conforming folks.



Marek Samblanet (he/him/his) is a second year PhD student in Curriculum and Instruction at Ohio University. While at OU he began the process of transitioning. His journey included starting testosterone treatments, getting top surgery, and finally getting phalloplasty (bottom surgery). His transition, like all, has had many ups and downs. With the support of his friends and family he has has gotten through many of the challenges faced by LGBTQ folks. He loves to share his experience with others and educate both trans people and cisgendered people alike on the unique aspects of the holistic trans experience.




Susan B. Young is currently a licensed psychologist working at the Chillicothe VAMC. She has a wide variety of therapeutic skills and is a Level 2 teacher-in-training in iRest Yoga Nidra meditation working toward her full certification. Before starting work at the VA in January 2016, she worked in private practice for six years in Athens, OH. Before that, was a staff psychologist at two different university counseling centers, serving as graduate student training and group coordinator in the first job and training director in the second; she developed and coordinated eating disorders treatment teams in both centers, and championed best practice treatment for LGBTQQ people, including starting a coordinated team approach to treatment for transgender individuals and running a transgender and gender variant support group for many years. She lives near Glouster, OH, with the love of her life in an intentional community and has three adult children and one grandchild. She is an avid gardener and seed saver, and helped start a non-profit seed company as well as doing occasional gardening/cooking education in Athens in order to improve food security and chronic health concerns in the southeast Ohio region.


Michelle completed her Counseling Psychology doctoral program at Michigan State University and a psychology internship at Colorado State University Counseling Center. She has been on staff at Ohio University Counseling and Psychological Services for 12 years. Michelle is a multicultural feminist therapist who has specialized in working in a university setting. Her interests and expertise include women’s issues, LGBTQIA+ issues, trans and gender diverse affirming therapy, group therapy, trauma work, and clinical training and supervision. She co-led the sexual assault survivor’s group for 10 years and has co-led Spectrum (a trans and gender diverse support group) for the past 2 years. Michelle has been providing letters for gender confirming medical treatment for over 10 years. She has facilitated trainings on WPATH SOC and letter writing for psychology interns and OU CPS staff for the past 5 years. She is also adjunct faculty in the Department of Psychology and has taught the Diversity Issues in Research and Practice class for 6 years.


Brief Description:

There is a saying among trans people that transitioning is one of the hardest as well as the most important things they will ever do. An essential component of affirming one’s gender is the coming out process. Although the coming out process can vary widely among trans and gender-diverse people, one common feature is that its first step is almost invariably one of coming out to themselves. This might seem trivial, but the reality is that it is often the culmination of a long process of self-understanding.

The journey then continues as one makes challenging decisions about who, when, where and how they will come out to others. These decisions are often affected by age, personality, coping skills, family circumstances, marital status, circle of friends, co-workers, new acquaintances and professional guidance. This presentation will sample the coming out experiences of three adult trans people of different backgrounds via a moderated panel with which attendees will interact.



1) Describe difficulties, perils, joys and tears that can be part of the coming-out process for trans people.
2) Articulate how supportiveness, affirmation and professional advice can favorably support the coming out process.