Harris Health makes history with the first transgender and non-binary person, Dr. Cody Miller Pyke, on the board of trustees

HARRIS COUNTY, TX (KTRK) – For the first time, Harris County’s largest medical system will have an openly transgender and non-binary individual on its Board of Trustees. It’s a historic appointment for Harris Health, but it also comes at a time when transgender rights are under attack in our state legislature.

To find out more, ABC13 invited Lou Weaver and Ethan Michelle Gans to our studio.

“They’re not listening,” said Ethan Michelle Gans, who is transgender and non-binary. “They actively don’t listen to the people whose lives directly impact it.”

SEE ALSO: Texas Children’s will stop servicing transgender people in the coming months, the CEO says in an email

“Basically, the conversation they have in subtle terms is, ‘We don’t want you here.’ Because if you don’t have access to a restroom, if your kids can’t exercise, if your kids don’t have access to medication, they can’t be here,” added Lou Weaver, who is queer and transgender.

This year, the Texas legislature passed bills banning certain drag performances and restricting transgender athletes from joining collegiate athletic teams.

And on September 1st, transgender children in our state will lose access to puberty blockers and hormone therapy.

Goose began taking hormones as an adult.

“We talk about gender dysphoria all the time, but we really need to start talking about our gender euphoria,” Gans said. “As I started making the transition, things happened like a euphoria that I didn’t even think I could ever feel.”

According to LGBTQ+ research firm The Williams Institute, nearly 93,000, or 0.43 percent, of Texans identify as transgender.

SEE RELATED STORY: More than a trans person: A UH student’s passion for advocacy, music and photography for Pride Month

But when it comes to who makes the laws, there is almost no transgender representation.

“To be honest, I had impostor syndrome the whole time. I was like, ‘It’s not going to be me. My name got thrown in there and they do their due diligence by interviewing me.’ “I never thought I would be selected. It’s super exciting because it feels like the culmination of everything I’ve worked on over the past decade,” said Dr. Cody Miller Pyke.

dr Pyke is both a doctor and a lawyer.

She has a master’s degree in bioethics and is a professor at the University of Houston College of Medicine. She is also transgender and non-binary.

“I think a lot of people don’t know a trans person, and if you don’t know or understand something, it’s really scary,” she said. “I wish more people would take the time to get to know people like me so that we can come to a mutual understanding and address fears and questions.”

dr Pyke’s appointment to Harris Health’s board of directors was unanimous — a yes vote from all three Democrats and one Republican on the commissioners’ court.

“It comes down to how we spend our dollars, which are taxpayers’ money, how we care for the most vulnerable population in Harris County who use Harris Health Services,” said Commissioner Lesley Briones, who is Dr. Pyke appointed. called. “Perspective is important, not just for symbolic value, but more importantly for the perspective and analysis that goes into the decisions made.”

Harris Health is a $2.3 billion healthcare system that includes community health centers and Ben Taub and LBJ Hospitals. Residents from across the country come to Houston to train at Baylor College of Medicine and Harris Health’s UTHealth programs.

dr Pyke will now be one of nine responsible board members.

“Okay, so here’s the sandbox that we’ve defined and we’re allowed to be in,” she explained. “Within the regulatory and legal framework, how can we do the most for this community?”

Harris Health is bound by state law, but board members have discretion over how certain taxpayer funds are used.

“I’m just remembering why I’m here, why I’m doing this work,” said Dr. pyke “And that’s because there are thousands of people like me who don’t have the privilege of speaking, whose voices are being silenced, and whose advocate I want to be.”

“If it’s there every day in these people’s lives, they can’t ignore our existence,” Weaver added. “That’s what we want — the same equal rights and equality as everyone else here and to be treated as full-fledged Texans. I wasn’t born here, but I’ve been taught to say that I got here just as quickly as I could.” But then you treat me like I don’t belong here. There is a contradiction between these two statements. I want to be proud of living here. Now they’re trying to kick me out because I don’t belong here. “It doesn’t fit with their idea of ​​what a Texan is.”

SEE RELATED STORY: 18-Year-Old Pioneering Transgender Student Helps Community Through Youth-Led Gender Cool Program

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