2nd Annual Kaiser Permanente LGBTQI Health Symposium: Future of Inclusion

This post is about the Symposium itself, which was held in Universal City, California (more info and agenda here). I posted previously about my presentation here: Presentation: Being a Transgender Ally and Unconscious Bias | Ted Eytan, MD 

Patients, and Doctors included

We did something I have never done before this time. I often (and regularly) bring our members/patients on stage to share their experiences.

The amazing duo, Co-Chairs April Soto, MD, Family Physician, HIV specialist, Amy Porter, MD, Pediatrician, LGBT Champion, Southern Califronia Permanente Medical Group

What I have never done is bring their doctor with them at the same time. This particular physician is April Soto, MD, who is a family medicine specialist in Pasadena, HIV specialist, for Southern California Permanente Medical Group. I think this is a next, new phase of patient voice, bringing both aspects of the relationship forward, to understand how health is produced in a safe, comfortable environment.

It was amazing for me. Why? Because we tend to think about patients and physicians only having relationships in the exam room, that they can’t learn from each other outside of the exam room. We know that’s not true anymore with the advent of a simple yet transformational technology : email. The science also shows that we can’t create an atmosphere of diminished bias/acceptance of our patients for who they are if we (physicians) only connect with them in an atmosphere of inequality.

I’d like to see a whole session about this, rather than a part of one in the future. Thanks to both of you 🙂 .

From “How do I do this, to how do I do this well?”

At last year’s symposium, transgender person health care was new for Kaiser Permanente. So new that people were just learning the basics. This year the questions were different, less about what the right treatment is, more about how to provide the treatment the best. In this packed room of 300 people, I heard doctors stand up and thank patients for helping them understand their situation better, so they can be better doctors for them. 

For me, these events are as much anthropology as they are continuing education. I am extremely encouraged by what I am seeing.

The power to change lives

Of course there was a panel of exceptional people, our members, who spanned the spectrum of LGBTI health. They reminded all of us what we may take for granted at times, what we don’t want to acknowledge at other times, that there is immense power in the healing relationship that can be used for good, or not-as-good.

I think it’s great that as our world learns to love better, our profession has the capacity to lead. 

I met a bunch more doctors this time who are driven to be fair, compassionate, and apply the best science that exists, even if parts of our profession don’t want to. They are incredible people as well. As far as the rest of the profession/world goes, It’s okay, as Lady Gaga once said, our generation has the power to change that, too 🙂 .

Thanks again to our hosts, the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Permanente Medical Group, and all of our members, nurses, and doctors who are producing health for all. I’m proud of you!


Ted Eytan, MD