Photo Friday: In Washington, DC, health care does what policy makers can’t…until later

This is not a partisan or a political post, it’s an observation on the interplay between policy makers and health care in leading health in society.

Health care as a sector is usually targeted for its inefficiency and poor quality, for its designing away of hope…..and then scenes like this happen.

The Photo

2017.05.20 Capital TransPride Washington, DC USA 5249
They see us. Whitman Walker Health lit in the colors of the transgender pride flag. 2017.05.20 Capital TransPride Washington, DC USA 5249 (View on
The image is of the iconic Whitman Walker Health (@WhitmanWalker) on 14th Street NW in Washington, DC, lit in the colors of the transgender pride flag, immediately following 2017 Capital TransPride, of which Whitman Walker is a presenting sponsor. (See: Because Life is Amazing and We Can: My 5th Capital TransPride )

Given the location, in one of the busiest corridors in our nation’s capital, the sight is as stunning and meaningful as was the lighting of the White House in the colors of the LGBTQ Pride flag in 2015.

Not the first time Whitman Walker preceded policy makers

This scene immediately reminded me of this one, in December, 2007, when I snapped this photograph, just a few blocks north, on World AIDS day:

Whitman Walker Clinic - Miracles Happen
Whitman Walker Clinic – Miracles Happen (View on
Remarkably, my thoughts from that moment are here on this blog (See: Photo Friday: Miracles Happen ), and they relate the feeling present at the time, that health care would have to lead our policy makers down the street, because they weren’t going to.

2016.12.01 World AIDS Day at The White House, Washington, DC USA 09223
2016.12.01 World AIDS Day at The White House, Washington, DC USA 09223 (View on

3 years later, a beautifully designed red ribbon appeared on the White House for the first time, on World AIDS Day, and it would adorn the House every year after that (and I’ve photographed it most years, it’s that stunning).

Whitman Walker has the longest track record for providing compassionate health care to the LGBTQ community – all the letters. And in this location, which for many years was forgotten and without hope as Washington, DC struggled after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr, and then the drug and HIV epidemics that followed.

And then policy makers caught up

Prohibition of Discrimination in Health Insurance based on Gender Identity or Expression 38007
Prohibition of Discrimination in Health Insurance based on Gender Identity or Expression 38007 (View on

In 2014, Washington, DC Mayor Vince Gray banned exclusions for transgender person care in health insurance. He went even farther – requiring that medically supervised, science-based transgender person care be covered as a requirement to sell insurance in the District of Columbia.

It was an incredible day – the policy was landmark not just for Washington, DC, but the entire nation, which is slowly catching up to Washington, DC in LGBTQ-supportive health policy. Washington, DC is still the national leader.

At the time we lamented that mainstream health care was incapable of being a leader in health.

There are always leaders in health in health care

Several of us hoped that the White House would follow-up the 2015 lighting by lighting with the transgender pride flag in 2016 after the series of health and life promoting policy actions undertaken by the Obama administration.

This didn’t happen. So we wait, and watch as Whitman Walker and every health system in Washington, DC innovates in LGBTQ health (because it’s required by policy).

One day policy makers will catch up again.

It’s happened before. ๐Ÿ™‚

Celebrating a new America #lovewins 58190
Next time, in the transgender pride flag colors. Until then, we have Whitman Walker (View on

A walk down the street to make today matter, National Center for Transgender Equality Gala, Washington, DC USA

2017.05.25 National Center for Transgender Equality Gala, Washington, DC USA 5451
2017.05.25 National Center for Transgender Equality Gala, Washington, DC USA 5451 (View on
In Washington, DC, you can walk down the street to make today matter. It’s why we came here.

Why I came here, to the National Center for Transgender Equality (@TransEquality) gala is to see transformational leadership of the kind I don’t see in many other parts of society. I also came to thank all of the people who work to protect me every day and to learn what I can do to make this day matter, too. Allies need allies.

Speaking of transformational leadership, it was a delight to see Gavin Grimm (@GavinGrimmVA) honored with the Andrew Cray award for his leadership. I still don’t quite understand why educators in Virginia are spending time working to humiliate him and other students as opposed to educating them. The combined medical and nursing professions don’t understand this either, and we shouldn’t, we’re entrusted to bring science-based healing to the world ๐Ÿ™‚ .

In the last century, they used to say another that for another State, so went the nation. In This Century, As Washington, DC Goes, So Goes the Nation

Because they never worked for their freedom, their travel experiences have no personal referenceโ€” no connection to the rest of their lives. Talk to them, and theyโ€™ll tell you theyโ€™re searching for something โ€œmeaningful.โ€ What theyโ€™re really looking for, however, is the reason why they started traveling in the first place.

Ferriss, Timothy (2016-12-06). Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers (p. 366). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Most people forget that innovation (and investing in innovation) is a business of exceptions.

Ferriss, Timothy (2016-12-06). Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers (p. 360). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Photos below – click here to see on

Because Life is Amazing and We Can: My 5th Capital TransPride

2017.05.20 Capital TransPride Washington, DC USA 5127
With Vanessa and Ellie Ford – Photographer Credit – Ronnie Ford ๐Ÿ™‚ 2017.05.20 Capital TransPride Washington, DC USA 5127 (View on
I didn’t take the photograph above – it was taken by Ronnie Ford, Ellie Ford’s older brother. He wanted to take some photos and he knows what he’s doing, so why not?

Ronnie and Ellie were at Capital TransPride (@TransPrideDC) this weekend, with their mother and father, Vanessa (@VanessaFordDC) and JR (@CrunchyDCGuy). The Ford family have been visible leaders (see these links to multiple national media outlets covering their story) in one of the most defining social movements our time. Their work is as valuable if not more than any physician’s in promoting health and long lives for LGBTQ human beings.

Health and Healing

2017.05.20 Capital TransPride Washington, DC USA 5250
They see us. @WhitmanWalker lights up Washington, DC in the colors of the transgender pride flag. 2017.05.20 Capital TransPride Washington, DC USA 5250 (View on

It’s what it felt like to be at Capital TransPride, now my 5th in a row. There was both the image of health and healing. This was the first year that Kaiser Permanente formally introduced a comprehensive transgender health program to these communities. Not one but four Permanente physicians (@PermanenteDocs) were present, along with therapists, researchers, and other health leaders. Whitman Walker Health (@WhitmanWalker), a national leader in transgender person health, and LGBTQ health in general, was also present (of course).

Whitman Walker also treated Washington, DC to a transgender pride flag light show from the windows of its health center, in one of the busiest night time corridors in the city. This is not the first time that Whitman Walker has done what the White House wasn’t able to in being a leader for health. I’ll be posting about that this week.

The world is learning to love better.

Leadership and Much Much More to do

2017.05.20 Capital TransPride Washington, DC USA 5129
On May 16, 2017, Kaiser Permanente signed the friend of the court brief for Gavin Grimm in Grimm vs Gloucester County School Board. The nurses, doctors, therapists, researchers, and people who power Kaiser Permanente met Gavin and gave him a hug on behalf of the organization.
2017.05.20 Capital TransPride Washington, DC USA 5129 (View on

At the same time, these are communities whose health and life trajectory are under threat, as told by Vanessa and Ron Ford as well as Gavin Grimm (@GavinGrimmVA) whose School Board worked to socially isolate transgender children based on non-scienced based views of reality.

We are also nearing the 1 year anniversary of the massacre of 49 human beings in Orlando, Florida, based on their identities as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. What we do here matters.

I was asked by an attendee how a busy doctor would have time to be part of Capital TransPride, and my answer is that health is what a doctor is supposed to be busy doing ๐Ÿ™‚ .

My photographs are below, and I have a few more things to post in the next day(s). With thanks to the gracious hosts at Studio Theatre (@Studio_Theatre) – not only was the space this year amazing, but the lighting inside a place built for art makes for beautiful pictures as well.

Photo Friday: Why I’m going to my 5th Capital TransPride This Weekend

2017.05.18 Capital TransPride Producers, Washington, DC USA 4983
2017.05.18 Capital TransPride Producers, Washington, DC USA 4983 (View on

My 2013 Answer: Because I and my fellow physicians went into medicine to support the ability of every human being to achieve their life goals. (See original blog post)

My 2017 Answer: Because life is amazing, and we can ๐Ÿ™‚ .

For those unfamiliar with Washington, DC, this is the 14th Street, NW walk of fame in front of Whitman-Walker Health (@whitmanwalker – our most awesome planning meeting host), just a few steps down from the former First Lady’s Cycling Studio.

Full schedule for : 2017 Capital Trans Pride (@TransprideDC)

Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic States is a proud sponsor for the 5th year.

First, the #LGBTQ community has never given up on a struggle, even if it took decades to achieve. And second, in the end, they always win.– Jerome Pohlen

More photos below, of the Capital TransPride producers team.

Before it becomes DC’s grandest Apple Store, it Celebrates LGBTQ Heroes

2017.05.13 #HeroesGala2017 Capital Pride Washington DC, USA 4821
2017.05.13 #HeroesGala2017 Capital Pride Washington DC, USA 4821 (View on
The historic Carnegie Library in Washington, DC, is about to get a very innovative tenant in Apple, Inc – one that celebrates people who change the world. It’s therefore fitting that it was the location for 2017’s Heroes Gala.

2017.05.13 #HeroesGala2017 Capital Pride Washington DC, USA 4734
2017.05.13 #HeroesGala2017 Capital Pride Washington DC, USA 4734 (View on

I attended (and took these photographs) because Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic States (@KPMidAtlantic) is a Platinum Sponsor of 2017 Capital Pride (@CapitalPrideDC) and Capital TransPride (@TransprideDC). And because I am a member of this community. This will be my 5th Capital TransPride, which I’ll post about separately.

Capital Prideโ€™s Heroes Gala, hosted by Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and with Major Event Sponsors Hilton and UPS, honors the unapologetically proud individuals, leaders, and activists who have furthered the causes important to the LGBTQ community in the national capital region and beyond. See:

Being Treated as Lesser, Doing More

I am still working my way through Tim Ferris’ Tools of Titans, and this passage about Ryan Holiday (@RyanHoliday) and Ben Franklin caught my eye:

Greatness comes from humble beginnings; it comes from grunt work. It means youโ€™re the least important person in the roomโ€” until you change that with results. There is an old saying, โ€œSay little, do much.โ€ What we really ought to do is update and apply a version of that to our early approach. Be lesser, do more.

Ferriss, Timothy (2016-12-06). Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers (pp. 337-338). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

There’s a key difference here. People in this community don’t have the option of being lesser, it is foisted on them every day.

And yet, the accomplishments are as grand as any that will fill a new store (or 100 of them).

A Flashback to the American Medical Association 1991 – “Let them Die”

Ruby Corado (@CasaRubyDC) reminded us that the street that the Carnegie Library sits on, K Street, NW, in downtown Washington, DC, was, not long ago the place where transgender people were harassed by police and moved to other parts of the city or arrested.

On this night, though, police officers, including officers who are transgender themselves, protected us, so that everyone could enjoy the beauty of the Library and our nation’s capital.

Ruby’s reminder caused me to have a flashback to my own history, when the world was a less loving place.

I was in Chicago last week for the Innovation Learning Network meeting, and our group dinner was held at Buddy Guy’s (@BuddyGuys), which happens to be across the street from the Chicago Hilton and Towers. This is the regular location of the American Medical Association’s annual meeting.

At my very first (and last) annual meeting in Chicago in 1991, the entrance to the hotel was blocked by protesters angry with the American Medical Association because of its stance on persons with HIV. I will never forget to this day what I, as a medical student, heard from the podium from a fellow medical student that day. He said, “A group known as ‘ACT-UP’ or ‘AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power’ is outside. When you walk out of the hotel, take off your badges and do not engage.” What he meant, in doctor speak was “let them die.”

I showed photographs of this time in front of the hotel from my TED talk with Regina Holliday. At the time, it felt like being imprisoned within the profession. However, that didn’t last long. Because that moment created a generation of physicians dedicated to changing everything, and they now are the leaders of those same organizations. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, people should be careful when they work to design against hope…

More to Be Done

I bring this up because this is what’s being created right now in 2017. A society that directly or indirectly designs against hope, life, HIV prevention, employment, freedom from incarceration for the LGBTQ community is creating a generation of super-leaders, who will change everything.

For as much as they say, they do very much more, and as much as the world works to make them lesser, more of the world learns to love better as a result. It’s how the human spirit works.

Rest of the photos below, take a look to see what communities controlling their own destiny looks like ๐Ÿ™‚ .

Create Something New, Use Data, Make it About DC. Meeting Anthony Williams and the Federal City Council

2017.05.02 with Mayor Anthony Williams, Yesim Sayin Taylor, Melissa Crawford 4399
2017.05.02 with Mayor Anthony Williams, Yesim Sayin Taylor, Melissa Crawford 4399 (View on

I love Washington, DC, so much, I can’t stand it.

Most people know that about me, and it shapes a lot of the writing on this blog as well as my photography….

…which brought me to what I’d call a 5-star experience, meeting Anthony Williams (@TonyWilliamsDC), CEO/Executive Director of the Federal City Council, former Mayor of Washington, DC, and colleagues, Yesim Sayin Taylor, PhD (@YesimSy), Executive Director, D.C. Policy Centerย (@DCPolicyCenter), and Melissa Crawford, Director of Membership and Events, also with the Federal City Council.

Why 5-star?

Mayor Williams’ accomplishments and the impact of the Federal City Council (@FedCityCouncil) shape much of the life of Washington, DC today. A quick trip to wikipedia (links above) will bring you up to speed.

Prior to this scheduled meeting, I re-read the epilogue of the book Dream City (read my review: Just Read: Dream City โ€“ the incredible story (and social determinants) of Washington, DC) which described Washington, DC before Anthony Williams became Mayor in 1999.

Writtenย in its time in history, a read could make a person cry. The situation of our city then is unfathomable compared to what it is today. It’s the irony of Washington, DC, a place oppressed and neglected while its inhabitants shaped (and continue to shape) the world. It’s also what makes this place so special. I relate this history to everyone who visits…

Experiencing Washington, DC through the new DC Policy Center

Through the connection of imagery, I learned about the DC Policy Center.

The Center produces independent analyses by its fellows under the direction of Yesim Sayin Taylor, PhD, an economist. I often say that Doctors love designers because of their impact on health. We also love data, which puts Economists in the same category for me.

The analyses at the Policy Center are very well done, relevant, objective and balanced. There is as much description of problems and successes, and I end of chasing after most of the links in each one – they generate that much curiosity.

This recent piece on anti-poverty policies is a great example: D.C. leads in anti-poverty policies – D.C. Policy Center.

When I went to explore the site, I recognized the photographs, and then I remembered the connection…

The Federal City Council, DC Policy Center, and me

About a year ago I was contacted by Sarah Kellogg from the Federal City Council via this blog, asking for permission to use some of my photographs. I immediately sent the response I send to anyone asking to use my photographs:

Hi Sarah!

I love Washington, DC and the Federal City Council, so permission is granted, use however you want.

Over the next few months, I received a few more requests, and the answer was consistent:

Hi Sarah!

Easy – answer to everything is yes.

Since then, Federal City Council and DC Policy Center have been using the photographs I’ve taken to adorn their web sites and business communications, which is a huge honor on many levels.

Mutually Assured Curiosity

I asked Yesim about the philosophy behind the work at the Center, she told me what she tells her fellows (I’m paraphrasing):

1. Create something new 2. Use Data 3. Make it about DC
Yesim Sayin Taylor, PhD, DC Policy Center

2017.05.02 with Mayor Anthony Williams, Yesim Sayin Taylor, Melissa Crawford 4401
2017.05.02 with Mayor Anthony Williams 4401 (View on

I’m comfortable living a life like that…and I would say it’s the way I think about capturing images. Whenever I travel outside of Washington, DC, to California for example, my camera sits unused, gathering dust. In Washington, it’s never far from me. That says something about how this city nurtures curiosity.

I have probably walked over 1,000 miles in Washington, DC since I arrived (see many of my walks here), and I never tire of it.

It is yet another byproduct of social media to be connected to people with similar desires, to help them do what they do best, and do it in and for Washington, DC (with data ๐Ÿ™‚ ).