As we continue to celebrate Pride Month and beyond, we turn the mic over to 2021 Tillman Scholar Cody Bean.
After seven years of honorable service, Cody made the hard decision to leave the military and follow the voice inside them calling them in a new direction. In 2019, Cody began their new journey at Northwestern University while volunteering for LGBTQIA+ organizations in the Chicago area. Passionate about giving back to the community that has given them so much, Cody now dedicates their time to eliminating healthcare disparities experienced by LGBTQIA+ people through research, service, and advocacy.
“Celebrating Pride Month means honoring the LGBTQIA+ luminaries who have come before me, and collectively coming together in a show of hope for LGBTQIA+ youth who face relentless attacks on their humanity,” they said.
While we officially celebrate Pride Month in June, Cody’s pride is not contained within those 30 days. Cody finds inspiration in LGBTQIA+ youth and their ability to discuss and honor their identities.
“I am proud of the LGBTQIA+ youth who show tremendous self awareness and determination in the face of adversity. When speaking with trans youth in particular, I am blown away by their ability to articulate their feelings and identity in such a clear and dignified way,” they said. “I am constantly inspired by their passion and commitment to honoring themselves, and working together to create a better world.”
Finally, Cody reflected on the importance of representation of the LGBTQIA+ community in the military veteran community and their field of work.
“On the most fundamental level, LGBTQIA+ representation in the military and veteran community, in medicine, and really in all settings is about safety,” In a more abstract way, it’s important to know there are people around you who understand the nuance of your particular experience.”
“Recently, in a patient’s consultation, they were describing gender dysphoria and their desire for a gender-affirming surgical procedure. The surgeon I was assisting — a kind, attentive, and skilled physician — experienced difficulty understanding this patient’s particular experience. I watched as this patient worked so hard to articulate their feelings and needs in terms that their doctor would understand. I felt their fear of outright sharing their trans identity with their doctor.
“When this patient learned that they were not alone in their identity, that someone with shared experience was present, I instantly felt their relief. I saw a familiar feeling come across their face. Now, they not only saw their doctor as a safe ally or at the very least, someone who would treat them without discrimination. They also felt like perhaps they would be understood. Representation in this moment, also served as an example that what they were trying to achieve was possible.”