I started my fellowship today.
I was about an hour early. My fellow fellow (ha!) told me the main mentor for the fellowship, Dr. F, said to come in at 10 a.m. I was too excited and insecure to come in that late, so I got to wander around by myself for a while. My “bosses”, the three researchers we will be working with, came in at 10 a.m.
Dr. F told us that she wanted us to come up with a plan, and she didn’t expect us to have anything concrete yet. I already have a lot of stuff put together. She also told us she wants some help right away putting together a grant proposal. She wants us to help with a literature search on control groups and ethics. Um, YAY!!! I am such a dork.
We got to sit in on a meeting about on the project on gay Latino men and HIV transmission prevention that is the subject of the grant. Our opinions were taken seriously. I mentioned transgender issues and the researchers and their project developer actually considered them. Part of the project involves a job application workshop, and we discussed if the training could include information on legal names versus transitioned names on job applications, if the gender assigned on the identification does not match the gender of the person interviewing for the position, gender discrimination, community resources and inappropriate interview questions.
The head researcher did say that only MTF transgender subjects would be considered, which indicated to me what her views were on gender identification. At the end of the discussion, she also joked around that no one would want to transition from assigned female gender to a male gender anyway, so it didn’t matter. She elbowed the other researcher, also a cisgender female we’ll call Dr. R, and they both giggled. I think it is more of a “girls rule, guys drool” humor they engage in often, at the expense of the third head researcher, her husband Dr. B, than a commentary on transitioning. But still. Transgender males and their health needs do exist, and could be the subjects of research, not just a joke. But I was happy we did have a legitimate discussion about trans issues for a good five minutes before anyone made any crude or disparaging remarks, and what was said was relatively mild.
Speaking of gender and sex, it was so strange to keep hearing everyone using male pronouns when referring to research and disease transmission. I am usually immersed in reading about birth and women’s issues.
The project manager Dr. R mentioned working at a nonprofit gay and lesbian association for several years, and said she worked at an abortion clinic in the 1970′s! Dr. B talks about health care reform and universal health care in glowing terms, and is a diehard idealist who has worked in the public health corps for years. I told them that I wanted to train them on the bibliographic software I used at my former job, and they sound genuinely interested.
We went out to lunch at the fancy faculty club that I didn’t know existed. It’s like a secret bunker with a pretty restaurant inside. They all left at 2 p.m. The main person in charge, Dr. F, will be gone until Monday. They are all very friendly and obviously like each other a great deal.
I swam with the family when I got home. I made a kick ass South Carolina Shrimp Boil for dinner tonight.
Life is good.