Community Impact

Legacy celebrates Pride month with Sam Wardwell

June 05, 2024

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Sam Wardwell joined Legacy a little more than two years ago when they were recruited to work in the Gender Care Services team as a clinic assistant MA. The position gives them a chance to work with their community daily.

We recently spoke with Sam about Pride month, what it means to them and how they celebrate.

What does Pride month mean to you and how do you celebrate it?

To me, it means community and solidarity. It’s the time of the year when we get to be most visible to the outside community and celebrate each other's unique stories. I like to celebrate by being with my community, celebrating political victories, reflection, and participating in various Pride events. It is OUR time to have PRIDE in who we are, together.

How do you support the LGBTQIA2S+ community in your personal and professional life?

Professionally, working in the Gender Care Services department is a big piece. I love coming to my job every day. It’s great to see firsthand patients getting the care that they need and being able to have a place to go where they are seen and respected. I also had the delightful opportunity to be a part of a workgroup working on improving our SOGI data collection. Lastly, I participate when I can in our Pride ERG.

Personally, I am a part of the community myself. We are like a family. The idea of queer people being family is an age-old expression that is still strongly used today. I try my best to always be there for my queer "siblings” and make sure to participate in community. Everyone is on their own journey, and there is room for that here. It's the simple act of being together and loving each other, in all the various ways we show up.

What are some of the challenges or barriers that LGBTQIA2S+ employees face in the workplace and how can we overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges I come across along with coworkers is trusting that when we go to non-queer places our identity will be respected and not assumed. When we get misgendered, even when it is unintentional, it is hurtful.

Another challenge is the ability to serve our LGBTQIA2S+ patients adequately. There are some system changes that may come down the pipeline hopefully soon that I am hopeful for. Some examples include the limited options available for legal sex and gender identity within Epic. In the SOGI data collection workgroup mentioned earlier, we are working on things like this, and I am hopeful some of those requests will be implemented.

Another related issue for both patients and employees is the lack of adequate access to gender neutral bathrooms. This is not just an issue for non-binary people, but many other trans individuals as well.

Sam Wardwell (they/them)
Clinic Assistant MA, Gender Care Center

How do you think our company can promote a more diverse and inclusive environment for LGBTQIA2S+ employees and allies?

First, make sure the space is safe everywhere for people who are gender diverse and of other queer identities. We do a good job of hiring a diverse range of people, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the spaces those people occupy. We can step up the game so that other employees are aware that we exist and how to respect us and that this is how you can be an ally. We have our respecting differences classes, which are great, but these are not enough.

How can we foster a culture of respect for LGBTQIA2S+ employees?

By giving more visibility to the different modalities that exist. Pride month is a great time to do that, and we can piggyback off that, but lets not stop there. I think there are people in Legacy that still don’t understand what it means to be queer and how to be an ally. I think people outside of the LGBTQIA2S+ community in general get anxious and this causes them to be self-defensive instead of open to learning experiences. I think Legacy can foster a culture of respect by teaching others how to be an ally, not just for this community, but for other minority communities as well. It is scary approaching something unfamiliar, I hold empathy for that, but you can't get trapped in that fear. You need to push through your discomfort and take the opportunity to grow so we can be there for each other, regardless of who we are.

I think Legacy is making progress and is putting up an effort to support the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Just starting up this clinic is a big signal for that. We need to keep up the momentum and make even bigger strides.

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