Do you know determination when you see it? Casa Ruby 2nd Anniversary, Washington, DC USA

I love watching people lead. It’s something I realized this week. Probably why I am drawn to being a Permanente physician, because of the strong leadership culture at Kaiser Permanente. And also why I recognize leadership when I see it.

I’ve known Ruby Corado, a humanist and transgender woman in Washington, DC (@casarubydc) for about a year (actually the blog way-back machine says it’s been 15 months (see: Washington, DC 2013 Sheroes of the Movement, Leadership | Ted Eytan, MD), and in that time I’ve watched an incredible leader. People will say that someone is tireless, always willing to help, dedicated. She is all that plus humble, and determined. How many leaders of a movement working to make lives better for the most vulnerable people in society say things like this:

Actually, most leaders in any part of society usually don’t say things like this.

June 3, 2014 was Casa Ruby’s 2nd Anniversary, which included Ruby’s leadership, as well as a visit from our current Mayor, Vince Gray (@mayorvincegray), and another leader I admire, Dana Beyer, MD (@danabeyermd). For a full list of the attendees and honorees: Casa Ruby Marks Second Anniversary – Metro Weekly

In addition to watching Ruby lead at the event, there’s our Mayor, who has been famously quoted as saying, “If you don’t like people who are transgender, you can leave Washington, DC.

Ruby tells the story of a person who is not ashamed of being with people who are transgender (and we set such a low bar already for interacting with this population). Instead, he rides elevators with them, poses for selfies with them (Photo Friday: Equality Selfie, with Washington, DC Mayor Vince Gray | Ted Eytan, MD), and more than that, embraces their presence in our community. And why shouldn’t he, or anyone.

Dana Beyer took time from a very busy campaign for Maryland State Senate to present me with the first ever Dan Massey Ally award. To be connected to this heritage is extremely humbling (see: Dana Beyer: Dan Massey, Renaissance Man, Androgyne and Longtime LGBT Change Agent, Passes On).

The D word – Determination

Dana mentioned in her remarks that I am committed to supporting Kaiser Permanente in becoming trans-friendly, trans-inclusive, trans-excellent. She used the word “determined,” which is a very special word in the patient / human community, and said that I am as determined as Ruby is to promote equity for this population. The thing about determination, when you see it, in the eyes of Regina Holliday (@ReginaHolliday) (who uses this word), or Ruby Corado, or any parent, wife, husband, child, is that it’s unstoppable. The more antibodies that are thrown at it, the stronger it becomes, and not in a hostile, angry way, in a more calm, reasoned, and human way, which is why it’s unstoppable.

I was maybe a little speechless after Dana introduced me, so I’ll say a little bit more here:

  • I didn’t choose this movement, it chose me
  • When you see people not being treated well and you feel helpless, as I did during the HIV crisis, it changes you forever (as is discussed in this TEDx talk: embracing failure)
  • Being an ally is the most awesome experience, you get to receive the anger directed at the people who you are an ally for.
  • It’s a sacred act, and is easy to perform when you’re determined, and when you have the ability to be even a partial shield (because the difference between then and now is that the two letters after my name can’t be taken away)
  • Dana’s right, I am determined, which means I follow and collaborate with great leaders and apply the best science to help make lives better, which means we are changing everything 🙂

People who are looking to see where innovation happens, or where leadership “is” in society today, would be well served to observe what’s happening in the movements of our time. This includes being in the selfies of another great leader, Consuella Lopez (@consuellalopez) awardee of a Distinguished Service Award, and in many ways the exemplar of respect for people who are trans in our nation’s capital and in the nation, in spite of this sobering fact:

Washington, DC is the most protective and supportive city of diversity and equity for its residents of any in the United States today. We’re here because we’re modeling what the future is going to be for the rest of our country. Come join us!

Photos below, enjoy.

Ted Eytan, MD