Thoughts on Working to Be an Ally in 2017, from Washington, DC

2017.05.09 LGBTQ Communities Dialogue and Capital Pride Board Meeting Washington DC USA 4560
2017.05.09 LGBTQ Communities Dialogue and Capital Pride Board Meeting Washington DC USA 4560 (View on

A few evenings ago evening I attended a public dialogue with the LGBTQ communities of Washington, DC and the Capital Pride Alliance (@CapitalPrideDC) organization. I was present as a member of the producer team for Capital Transpride (@TransPrideDC).

The conversation reminded me of the emotions present after the horrific massacre of 49 human beings in Orlando last year. I wrote about working to be an ally then: (Photo Friday: This doctor is here for you during LGBTQ pride, and for your long, healthy life).

I came to Washington, DC and found out I wanted to work to be a better ally. When my generation of physicians needed them, they (allies) were few and far between….

I met Jen McCoy a few weeks ago, in an almost rushed conversation, when she approached me to ask about transgender person care. Following our conversation I received this message from her, which she’s given me permission to repost here.

Hi Dr. Eytan,

We spoke for a couple minutes in March at ACHP about health care for the transgender population and you handed me your card with your pronouns on it. That was a changing point for me and I want to let you know.

When I returned, I began attending a transgender support group as an ally, ear and liaison for my health care company. To me, it all boiled down to this: the community members are living their authentic lives and 99% of the population doesn’t live their truth for whatever reason (I think it’s fear). As a result, I’ve made friends and also feel very committed to ensuring safe, accessible, affordable health care (as does my company).

This week, I received an email from a woman in the support group who said it’s important to have cisgender allies. I’ve gained so much from attending, including the cathartic share of my friend’s suicide, who was gay and bullied. I’ve carried guilt about not saving him for years, attend therapy for more than a decade, and once I told the group–a weight was finally lifted. They cried with me. I got a group hug. It was incredible.

This morning, I was reading the Huffington Post and saw a photo gallery of a dance party outside Ivanka Trump’s place. When I saw the name of the photographer, I wondered if it was you and as you know, it is! I found you on Instagram and just had to email you to let you know that YOU made a BIG difference. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me; thank you for being approachable and accessible; thank you for being an incredible advocate in health care.

I almost didn’t attend the conference because of anxiety, but if I would’ve let fear stop me then I would’ve never ran into you; probably would’ve been too timid to attend a support group; never would’ve made the connections and friendships; and wouldn’t have you as a resource for our company. I learned this morning that I should step into the fear. Full circle, huge learning moment on my part.

Again, thank you. Please never underestimate your interactions because they create positive change. I hope you know it and embrace it.

Jen McCoy

I believe that we’ve discovered that our generation does have the power to change everything, and the world, ultimately, is learning to love better.

Everyone deserves to be safe, and to live a long, healthy life. It’s why we’re here.


I love this!!! Jen is such an authentic person and I am so glad to know her as a friend. Thanks to the both of you for your advocacy. It is MUCH needed!

Amazing!! We need more people like both of you in this world! Loved every word!! <3

She’s pretty remarkable, and so are both of you for your support. Allies need allies. Thank you,


Ted Eytan, MD