In this episode, we’re joined by an extra special guest, Dr. Jonathan Tolentino, Program Director of the Combined Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Residency program at Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami and Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at University of Miami. We chat about intersectional healthcare and the importance of understanding our history, legislation, and evolving healthcare to show up for our historically marginalized communities & youth.
We chat about:
- The importance of recognizing the intersectionality of gender, race, and sexuality in healthcare.
- The future of our ever-evolving medical field.
- Our stories of acceptance and fitting in and the growing visibility of queer identities around the world.
- Discriminatory laws and their impact on our historically marginalized communities, especially our youth.
- The importance of showing up and holding our legislators accountable
You can more of JT at:
- Instagram: @jonjon980206
You can follow me at:
- Website: yellowglitterpodcast.com
- Instagram: @stevenwakabayashi
- YouTube: @stevenwakabayashi
- Subscribe to my weekly newsletter: mindfulmoments.substack.com
Steven: Hi everyone. My name is Steven Wakabayashi, and you’re listening to Yellow Glitter Mindfulness Through the Eyes and Soul of Queer Asian Perspectives. This episode, we’re joined by an extra special returning guest, Dr. Jonathan Tolentino, JT, or Jonathan Tolentino is a program director of the Combined Internal Medicine Pediatrics Residency Program at Jackson Memorial Hospital, university of Miami.
And associate professor of Internal Medicine at pediatrics at University of Miami. He works with BIPOC and LGBTQA communities, as well as uninsured and underserved populations. And also a huge insight into just working with youth underserved communities all around Miami, Florida area, and really excited to have you back.
Jonathan: Thank you. So good to be here as always.
Steven: Yes, as always. And last time we had you on last year, it was still the heat of the pandemic. Folks were struggling getting through it. We were just transitioning into. Being more in the open, people were transitioning back into livelihood, meeting with folks, families, crowds again, and just wanted to do a quick check-in with you. How’s everything been since then?
Jonathan: I would say it’s been. Interesting. Right. You know, as a physician, people are saying we’re post pandemic or we’re post covid and we’re not any of those posts anythings right now. Right. But that we are the best way to kind of think of it as a different phase of the pandemic. And I think that’s the part that, on one hand it’s exciting to be in a different phase and it’s exciting to know that we can open up a lot more, but that it’s still there. And I think that part has been interesting to say the least. At the same time, it’s been one of those situations where while there’s been many great things that have been happening, it’s, there’s been a lot of things that’s been affecting our communities that has really bothered me, especially living in Florida, living in a quote unquote red state that has really attacked the LGBTQ and queer communities.
That really has been tough, right? You get some plus some minuses and but yeah, I think this is, The interesting part about life, right? That you have your ups and your downs, but overall, I’m grateful for the wonderful things that are still happening.
Steven: It’s an opportunity to cherish what we’ve had and especially even LGBTQ legislation for marriage equality. It seems as though we just got it past no longer than like two decades ago, and then all of a sudden we have some states also starting to bring it into questioning. And I think it totally aligned with you on just all of the awful things that’s coming out, especially unfortunately from Florida and Florida legislators on just how we’re caring for our trans youth, our LGBTQ youth, what are they studying? What are they learning? And specifically for you within your practice, what are you seeing? What are you seeing the impacts with your patients, with your communities?
Jonathan: I think the best way I can describe it is the sense of unease and anxiety. Right. Where this constant barrage of different things, different attacks, different governmental bodies and groups saying that your existence is minimalized or your existence doesn’t matter. Or more importantly, that while there’s big push for parental rights and what have you, there’s also this weird sense that, well, which parental rights matter more. And those arguments are very difficult because while as a pediatrician, as a physician, I’m always encouraging families to work together, to work as units and what have you. It pains me when I have to explain to families or to patients that their protection or the care for your child can’t be fully maximized because of some of these very stringent laws that are really intended to suppress the existence of many of our trans youth and the existence of queer parents and the existence of queerness that we know exists out there. And it really bothers me because it affects the mental health of the entire family, affects the mental health of the child, and it also really affects when we think of just children in general that why do we give this if we use schools to prepare our children for the real world, right? I get it. Math, arithmetic, science, biology, all those things. That’s what schools are supposed to prepare you for. But then at the same time, being able to interact with each other, being able to understand our history, all those things are just as important.
And that’s what social studies are for. That’s what a lot of these counseling centers are for, and there are so many elements that are part of growing up to be a well-adjusted adult that we’re as a nation or as a governmental body that’s trying to educate its youth are okay with saying, no. All those, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what the real world looks like when you turn 18 and you start your next journey in college or in the workforce or what have you.
And we will be okay with you being ill-equipped at dealing with a truly diverse group of people that you’ll live with day in and day out. And those are the things that I think really sad to me because it starts affecting the health of many of the youths that have to suffer through that.
Steven: And let me ask you, why
Jonathan: do you think this is happening?
I think it’s one of two different things and I tell parents this all the time, right? We are trying to do the best for our children, right? As a pediatrician, as a parent, or what have you, we’re trying to think of what’s best for our children and the best for the future, their health or what have you.
But when I take a step back and I think, why is this all happening? We always throw the word cultural wars around. These cultural wars are out there that this is a queer agenda or what have you. And I think is partly that fear of change that while we know that the queer community has always been around the United States, for many, decades, eon, centuries, what have you, they’ve just had to live in silence, right?
Or a conform to a heteronormative world that many of us are very well used to. And to now enter into a world where we are beginning to start looking at queerness as part of the normal. Is a very, I think, a very different f friendship mind shift that I think many people aren’t prepared for. More importantly, a reckoning of what really has truly existed for.
Centuries upon centuries and eons as human beings, but that our social structures have never been prepared to actually integrate in a regular manner. And so from my standpoint, I think it from a healthcare standpoint of, well, for many, many centuries medicine, Has always been structured with a very clear understanding of men, women, mother, child, father, what have you, family unit, what have you, and how those constructs kind of work is how medicines always work.
And now that medicine has evolved really to really recognize that. Gender is a social construct. Biologic sex is biologic sex. And that because generalness is a social construct, I was just even thinking about this with some of these trans laws where it’s like, well, the dress staple, what have you, and I’m just thinking, man, our, many of our forefathers wore wigs on a daily basis.
And social construct now is that men don’t wear. Back in the 17th century, 18th century, they wore wigs. Just that one little piece is an example of how social constructs of gender changes. But because of that, we and because we equate biologic sex with genderedness, it affects how we look at medicine in general.
And so, when you start dismantling a lot of these constructs, though many of us who have adhered to these constructs, as we start seeing it kind of reshaping and reforming, there is an automatic reactionary movement against it. And I think that’s what we’re seeing a lot of right now. And unfortunately while over time on average, I think we’re gonna continue to actually show ongoing progress in terms of how these contracts work.
What I see along the way is that we’re willing to hurt people in order to figure that out, which I don’t think is really the best way to do that.
Steven: Yeah, I have so many follow ups to that one. Yes. The social construct is such a big thing to recognize because what was it? Shakespearean plays for the longest time in the very beginning, right. Only had men in it, and they dressed up to be women to play women roles, like women were not allowed to be in plays, and so they were the founding fathers for drag queens. You know? And it is just insane to see how our culture as a society is forgetting that historical anecdote. And I have another follow up question is, especially with medical industry and just many of the recognition of trans non-binary care and the necessity of it. It seems as though there’s some things going great and going pushed in the right direction, at least in terms of codifying care. How do you think the medical industry is so much more progressive than just society as a whole?
Jonathan: I think what we see in medicine is how the effects of putting barriers to healthcare can really affect patients, right? This is one where, you’ve done the research, you’ve looked at the outcomes. We’ve looked at how this effects overall mental health, suicide rates, what have you. We know that rates of being unhoused as are much higher in LGBTQ youth and all that, and we know that being unhoused in itself is a strong risk factor for worse health outcome.
And so I think it’s because we have that perspective, right? One of our jobs as a physician is to be there at people’s absolute worst times, right? Care at the absolute worst times. And you know, it’s very hard to go to the doctor if you’re feeling great, right? But we can see, we see patients, we see our youth, we see our, our trans youth, our queer youth.
And we see the stress. We see the depression, we see the anxiety. And we know this is negatively affecting a whole group of patients that I think is very detrimental. And we think just long term effects. And I think that’s where organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and what have you have taken a very strong stance in supporting the queer community, supporting the trans communities, because we know that denying care.
Discriminating against the LGBTQ and queer communities. Putting in laws that basically erases or minimizes the existence of entire segments of population can be very detrimental to the overall health of children. And I think that’s where we’ve taken a much more progressive stance now, and I think this is the part where.
Understanding the complexities of medicine is really hard, right? And this is one of the huge complexities of medicine. And the hard part is that it seems like medicine evolves and changes. It should. Medicine should evolve and change. We are learning so much about the human body. We’re learning so much about how we understand the interface of culture and social constructs and biology and how that changes and how That’s how that evolves and how that all interacts with medicine.
And I think. Those constant changes I think are hard for the general public to understand, not because general public can’t understand, but it’s because the complexity is so intertwined. We used to always say that medicine changes so constantly that good majority of the information that I learned in medical school has either been changed, debunked, or has been improved upon, and that we are constantly learning more about the human body. I will tell you that when I retire, probably in 20, 30 years, what I, how I practice now will be vastly different than how I practice in 20 years because our understanding in how things evolve will change. But I think that’s where, getting back to your original question, Why physicians, why medicine has really tried to be in the forefront or at least been a harbinger of a lot of what’s really going on with mainly the with , the trans and queer youth in America.
Steven: I just remember going back to younger Steven when he was studying biology, going baby Steven, going into pre-med and studying biology. I had a professor that was always big at just pointing out everything we’re learning are all theories.
They’re not actual codified, structured law of, whatever. And even some of the laws, we say it’s law something, but it’s just a theory. And I think the one thing that the professor kept pointing out was that the concept of correlation versus causation and so much of what we learn. Are simply correlations versus absolute causations.
This affects this. And yeah, also like most of the stuff I studied, most of the stuff I learned has completely changed. And the hard part to grapple with is just how society as a whole understand that, and sometimes I think a big part of just recognizing change and shifts. I think I saw somebody put it really well.
I forget if it’s on Twitter or Instagram, one of the social media platforms, but change is good. And we want society to change because it means we’re listening, our hearts are opens, and we’re making other people’s livelihood easier. Wouldn’t we want a society
Jonathan: that does that, you know?
Yeah, no, definitely.
And I think it’s that sense of absolutes in science cuz we feel excited. Yeah. It’s really things that are that are absolute. You know, it’s funny, I was reading, watching something about how math has theories and that blows my mind every time I hear that mathematicians, that there are people who do theoretical math and we always think, well, one plus one equals two.
And it’s that entire question of, well, why does it equal two? It’s like, well there’s two of them. It’s like, well, why? We have to prove it. And I think this is the part where, I live in the world of medical sciences. Other people live in the world of other sciences and and what have you. And we learned very quickly that as medicine evolves, as our understanding of our bodies and ourselves evolve it, that we have to evolve with that.
But it is hard because we are also cultural beings. And we group within a certain culture, right? We group within a certain construct of what it means to be a person and what have you. And I think our understanding of our own cultures and our own selves informs how we take in information about how the world moves and changes.
I even think of myself as little JT, going through school and thinking I’m gonna go to medical school. I understand this is great. And had this construct of me as. At that point I wasn’t out as a youth and it was still that thought of I’m still gonna be a doctor and we’re still gonna be doing this.
And to be a good doctor is yet to be, you have to be married to a woman, have a family, all that kind of stuff. And that’s what good doctors do and, that the science is there and everything from that standpoint. And that’s changed and that changed a lot. But it takes a lot to actually be willing to have that change cause there’s some things we’re willing to change about ourselves.
Especially when you get to collective change. If it’s hard to change our own thought processes, it’s even harder. If you think about it as a society, that’s where I see this backlash occurring a lot of is that it is hard to change because it is, humans are a creature of habit and constant change is disconcerning.
But we have to, we absolutely have to, or as we as a society, are absolutely willing to hurt other people.
Steven: And sometimes two things come up for me. The first thing is there are those who argue, right? Like queerness as all this stuff is a choice and. It’s quite fascinating for that argument where a lot of people will say it’s choice.
When, if we were all given the choice at one point in our lives, we would’ve wanted to erase the aspect of ourselves just to fit in, right? Just to be normal with everyone else. And it’s so much of a easier life because you’re not teased as much. You’re not dealing with just being ostracized or in certain cases you’re being unhoused.
You’re kicked out of the house, right? You’re kicked out of your family structures, fired from jobs. It’s just so when we start listing all the stuff that you do go through, especially as a queer, trans individual, it’s a hard life in many instances. And then the other aspect is this whole notion that some of these people are representative of our sins or whatnot, but actually it’s quite the opposite, right? Where it’s representing authenticity, truth, this vulnerability to be who you are unabashedly, which I think is a big part of what’s scary for a lot of people is maybe there is a bit of queerness within them, transness within them, that they’re afraid to recognize, and it’s so much of.
I’m not saying everyone pushes against it is queer or trans, but with the growing populations, I don’t know if you saw the statistic, I was looking, taking a look at just historical context, decade over decade, how many more. The population that says that they are in fact queer. Yes. And it quite literally seems to double every single, was it every single generation?
Or every single decade. The statistic kept. Quite literally doubling, like I think the, percentage of queer youth identifying is about 30% right now. Yes. And the millennial generation is about 15%. The generation previous to that is about 7% and then about is that like three 4% and then 2%. And I was like, this is quite fascinating to see.
But anyway, that was a tangent to The No, but potentially everyone is queer.
Yeah. Well, you know,
Everyone’s struggling with it.
Jonathan: It’s not a struggle. I think it’s more that acceptance that gender is a social construct. Right? And so the concept of that you have to be straight or bi or queer or just straight, and that you have to marry somebody of the opposite bi biologic sex is what you have to do.
Is truly a social construct that who you decide to be with for the rest of your life or for an extended period of time really is. Your choice. Nobody really decides who you are attracted to, who you are, what have you. Now, the biological sciences, it’s absolutely true. In order to procreate, you have to have somebody of, the biologic, male sex or biologic female sex, and or being able to actually find surrogate ways to be able to do that either through IVF or what have you.
The concept of the family unit. Is something that still remains a social construct. We often talk about families living together and what have you, and the concept of family. Can be very different based upon where you live and what have you. And, that entire construct in which like the expectation that brothers and sisters all live within the same area of each other, or even something as simple as our grandparents expected to live with the eldest child, which is very common in many countries in, my family.
That’s the expectation, is that the oldest child takes care of the grandparent. That’s a social construct. That’s a social expectation. But then when you come to, when you come to a very Western culture in United States, it’s very customary for families. Once the child leaves the nest to kind of live on their own and that everybody lives very independently, even into their elder age.
And we have nursing homes, we have assisted care living facilities there even there are many queer retirement communities in in many parts of the country where people can grow old together, but it’s never this expectation in many, circumstances where family units must always stay together.
And I think your statistic from before makes complete sense that. Our understanding of, our overall, not just gender, but our sexual orientation can actually be very fluid. And I love that. I love that for our youth. I love that for them. And I know that many of my colleagues still struggle to wrap their head around it because it wasn’t a social construct that we were trained in, nor the social construct in which we grew up in.
We grew up in a very different social contract for many of us. Our expectations were different. And what we’re what society expected of, young Asian youth, young Filipino youth, young Vietnamese youth and Japanese youth or what have you, is very different. We all heard like, oh, you’re gonna become this, you’re gonna become that.
You’re gonna become that. Oh, you’re Asian gonna become a doctor. Well, yes, I guess I kind of did that, but I think that those are, those constructs that constantly change. And I, I think what’s really hard is that for many, many, many year, for many, many, you know, eons, gender and biologic sex were congruent.
Even though they’re technically two different constructs. And that’s where I think a lot of this debate comes from because now that we’re trying to separate the two constructs because, and really understanding at what, what’s different between them, that there’s still many society and unfortunately legislators who are trying to keep them together because that’s the way it’s always been. It’s kinda like anything else, if that’s the way it’s always been, Miami would be a swamp. New York would be an island with nothing to do, and, and Alaska would be a barren tundra without people. That’s the way it used to be.
Steven: Yeah. Yeah. And also when we look into nature to see how some of these constructs play out, there are animals who engage in queer practices and there are also animals who biologically change their gender, depending on I’m just thinking of barnacles. Apparently barnacles when they layer on top of each other, whoever’s I think at the top is the female or male, but , it’s quite literally they change their whole biologic construct because of just their positionality on top of one another.
There can be many jokes to be made there. But it goes to say that there’s just so much we have yet to understand of just what happens. I think even the understanding / research of just queer practices with animals haven’t been very deeply researched. And so as we shift the lens of our own social constructs, I think it’s starting to open up our magnifying glass to see what is actually happening in the world, because we start accepting this opportunity for other forms of truths to exist.
But it’s quite fascinating how I was reading an article are basically we as humans because. This construct of gender, construct of sexuality, that we apply this as the primary lens to so many creatures and animals and beings out in the world. In fact, it could have been completely the opposite. The fascinating theory I was just reading in an article that was basically how are we just basically taking everything that happens in humans and just saying, this is maybe where we’re gonna start the research or this. Start the understanding of all these different animals and species and beings, plants even, which is
Jonathan: quite fascinating.
Yeah. You even hear it about cuz the entire construct, right?
Like I think of the, you have two men who are dating, one is Asian, one is White, or some other race or whatever. One of the questions you get asked is, who’s the man? I’m like, what do you mean? Who’s the man’s? Like, oh, who’s the man? Who’s the top? Yeah. But I love that entire question of who’s the man and who’s the woman, right?
Because really, and this is what it gets down to, it. Who is playing that social role, that entire social construct, and it goes back to it’s a social construct, right? There’s no biologic on this. When two gay men or two gay women come together and start dating, that one has to assume the quote unquote man and unquote women positions because they’re all social constructs.
Steven: Yeah, they’re just made up for playing house, basically.
Jonathan: I remember when I was dating, oh, a guy once. They’re like, I don’t, I think you’re the man’s relationship. I’m like, I don’t know. I think you’re also the mand relationship too. I don’t, I mean, we’re both men and we both identify as men, so I don’t know what it’s like, oh, you’re talking about this weird dynamic of submissiveness versus dominance and what have you, but they’re all social constructs.
Biologically, I don’t become the woman in one relationship versus man in one relationship.
Steven: You’re not a barnacle?
Jonathan: No, not a barnacle. What an interesting life that would be.
Steven: Yeah, and it’s so fascinating to also see this whole notion of just this nuclear family and this construct of nuclear family or some queer communities or queer couples, they went so hard in the realm of like, we want to be integrated.
That all of a sudden you start to see this normalization and this structure of so much of what we had tried to. Diversify from, and I think there’s a lot to I, I think there’s a lot more to see coming out of it. What I wanna touch on next with you is specifically with our queer youth and our queer youth, who may be struggling with some of this stuff, who may be in a state that is passing legislation that don’t recognize, don’t protect them.
What advice may you have for them if they may be listening on just how to navigate the situation that’s happening right now?
Jonathan: I was actually talking to a colleague of mine who does this work in Texas, and so, she and I, we talk a lot. She’s a trans physician herself and, and we spend a lot of time just saying, how do we do this?
Right? And I think the first thing that I think of is find your allies. Find that you find your support group almost immediately find whether it’s your friends and family, whether it is your counselors, whether it’s your physician, find support. There are obviously many queer organizations out there that provide wrap really great wraparound care and really great wraparound support because the first thing I think of is that you should not be alone.
And you should not feel alone when you’re in these situations because it can be very isolating when you feel like the entire weight of an entire state is working against you. That that there’s nobody else out there that’s gonna help you. There are people, there are advocates, there are organizations, there are physicians who understand and who really are working really hard to find those resources so that you can actually get the care that you need, but more importantly that you’re not alone and that you’re not in a situation where that you could potentially either not get ongoing care or that you’re potentially in a dangerous situation because they don’t want also to be in a situ for youth to feel that they have to hide.
As a way to survive, right? I tell everyone that my goal isn’t survival. My goal is that you thrive through all of this, and then it sounds like semantics. But if you walk in with, I have to survive this, then you also walk in with the potential that you may not succeed. As opposed to, really what I’m thinking about is you have to really have to go in with the mentality that you can thrive, and there are ways that we can help you thrive despite the crazy legislation that’s going out there and the crazy things that’s working against you from that standpoint.
The other part that I always really focus on is depending on where you are in your own journey, is also really thinking about is your overall healthcare. And that, if you need a counselor, find a counselor. If you need a psychiatrist find a psychiatrist. And if you don’t have a physician or a physician that understands the queer community, there are websites out there.
For example the GLMA. Gay Lesbian Medical Association has a clearing house of queer physicians or queer allied physicians that are willing to help you and that are that work with the queer community in the trans community. And it’s a great resource for a lot of people to kind of look for physicians who are willing to help and have experienced working with the queer communities in many of our states.
Lastly, when I think about overall support is working with your allies to really start legi, to release, not just talking to national legislatures, but a lot of these policies that are hurting our youth happen in our local communities. And so it’s more than just voting is actually bringing a voice, bringing your voice to the legislators, to your city, councilmen to your representatives, really being able to actually look to people to, to actually think about change an actual real change. Many of us feel that our voice isn’t strong enough to be able to actually help enact change, but it is, this is part of why we live in a democracy, right? That our voice actually can have impact. And so this is where. The more that we get people politically active, the more that we get people to actually tell their story and tell those, tell their personal story to those who are actually making policy or influencing some policy can be wholly helpful.
Those are those small little efforts that can actually have huge, huge impact. I just even, think about when gay marriage. Was basically codified into law through the Supreme Court decision back in 2016 that came through one person in Cincinnati, Ohio and just working that way all the way up to the Supreme Court, and it just takes one person and one person’s voice to make a huge impact.
Steven: That’s a great point, and I think. The pro and con of what’s happening right now. I think we’re gonna see an opportunity for many of the issues going to the courts, and then ultimately also then going to the Supreme Courts and then having an opportunity to have a debate at the national level to see who can have rights recognized, codified into law. It’s definitely scary, but it’s one of those things that, especially as we even think about gay, the recognition for same sex marriages, right? If it were not for the people who had it denied and they didn’t take it to court and they didn’t surface it up, it wouldn’t have been at the stage for us to talk about it collectively as a country.
My hope is that we’ll take a little bit of time and with that we have younger generations getting into the voting age.
Few more years and I mean, that’s where I have a ton of hope is I think a lot of the younger generation really get it. And a lot are really dismantling a lot of many social constructs, right?
Social constructs of gender, social constructs of sexualities, social constructs of relationship styles and types. And I am really excited to see how this becomes, more mainstream in a way that is more accepted. But definitely just like you mentioned, change is tough. Change is not something that happens overnight and we all have to do our due diligence, especially whether we’re in our communities, whether we are allies, ourselves to put ourselves out there in a way that helps other people that this impacts, especially our marginalized communities.
Jonathan: No, definitely. And I think that’s one that, we always have hope for with the next generation, right? And that real sense, that change doesn’t necessarily come from the older generations.
And I say this as I’ve become part of this older generation, which I don’t feel so great about sometimes, but I think this is the one where What I’m seeing now amongst Gen Zs and younger millennials is that there is, they’re beginning to see that not only do they have a different sense of construct, but that their voice now really does matter.
That their decisions really do matter, and that more importantly, that efforts to disenfranchise them won’t work. That efforts to silence them won’t work. And then more importantly, that they are now a bigger part of the decision making workforce that, 10, 20 years, they’re gonna be, the majority of the working patient population.
They’re gonna be the majority of the local legislators, if not the nat, some of the national legislators, and that we, they really are going to be the ones who can affect change. And so, what I really encourage. All of our, especially college students, our youth, is to really think about one, not to give up hope that things won’t change, but to take that energy and think how can I affect change better? How can I continue to hold legislators accountable for what they’re doing to us and what they’re doing to their constituents that they’re supposed to be protecting and serving? And then more importantly, Really understanding, how do you actually affect change? And we were talking about this earlier, is how do you affect change with people who don’t necessarily always agree with you?
That’s the hardest one because it’s very easy for us to talk about how we hate things, about how things are going with the people who we agree with. But it’s much harder to have that same conversation with somebody who walked into conversation, into the entire conversation in the debate, staunchly against what you believe and what you’re doing.
I think that’s one of the bigger challenges that we have. And when it, when we start talking about coalition building and we talk about, I keep bringing everybody together and really affecting change because we have many wonderful legislators in both the state houses as well as in congress have to do this on a regular basis.
And I think those are those skillsets that I know are there but more importantly, I’m really excited to see how our Gen Z’s population are gonna be able to take their passion and this real fight to make sure that queer rights are not just special cases, but that this is what we just do. This is what we should just do, and just make that part of codified law or just make this part of who we are as a society.
I’m excited about that. I think that’s what’s really great about looking into the future and then thinking about where things are. I think about my medical, with my own medical students and my trainees, is how they’re going to affect change and how they’re going to continue to take their passions and move things forward.
What is my queer residents or my black and brown residents or anyone that I work with, that they’re the ones who are gonna affect change and they’re the ones who are really going to take many things that I wish that our generation was able to accomplish and kind of pass it on and pick up that responsibility.
Steven: Absolutely, and or some quick maybe like actionable advice that I may ask you. Let’s say you were just somebody, whether you’re an ally or you’re part of the community, but you wanna check in with someone to see how they’re doing and making sure it’s not coming off cross as performative or it’s just something that you’re doing for the sake of doing, but you really want to check in with folks.
Do you have any advice or recommendations that would be really helpful for folks to check in? Be present? Yeah. With those who may be struggling?
Jonathan: Yeah. I think first is the decision to check in. I think the anxieties of actually feeling, should I do it, should I not do it? Chances are if you persevere those anxieties, you’ll never do it, so just do it.
That’s the first thing, and I think a lot of us fail to do that. Second is focus on just, are you okay? And really focus on them. Often we start off with how we are feeling about the entire situation. And what we end up doing is, especially as allies, is we’re trying to sympathize or provide empathy for it without really understanding how they’re feeling.
And so if we start with how are you feeling about what’s going on? Or, I know a lot is going on, tell me how things are going. And leaving it as an open question. Some people may not be ready to open up. Some people may be ready to open up. Everybody’s at a different stage as they’re trying to manage the constant barrage of changes that happen.
And then third is to provide an open and listening ear. Again, many of us want to talk about how we’re feeling about this, but really focusing on. Trying to understand and how you can support them, whether it’s just a listening ear or whether it’s, taking ’em out to dinner or just hanging out.
Something simple is what many people are looking for. The support often just comes from not being alone, and I think that’s the hardest part. Many of us feel that we should do more, but doing more sometimes comes off as doing more for oneself as opposed to doing something for them.
Steven: Yeah, that’s a great point.
Not having an agenda and quite simply being open. Open-minded. Open-hearted.
Jonathan: Yes. And I think you’ll find that you’ll get a lot more out of that conversation that you have. Then if you walk in with your own agenda saying, I wanna talk about the legislation that’s happening in Florida and Texas and in Tennessee.
Isn’t that terrible? So terrible. Yeah. So terrible. It makes me feel so bad for everybody. It’s like it’s helping you debrief. Right. And if you need to debrief, that’s something that I think we all should do, but that debriefing is not the intent. It wasn’t the intent of what you walked into. So knowing for yourself what your agenda is, which in those conversations should be the person that you’re supporting, it helps so that you’re not basically giving out your own feelings and your own anxieties about the situation.
Steven: Yeah, that’s a great point. And. I think I have a few more questions for you. Just to wrap up. This has been a such a fruitful conversation talking about so many things of just how to show up for our queer community, our youth. I wanted to ask you, what is a last takeaway that you wanna share with audiences?
Jonathan: Showing up for our youth. Can come in many different forms, right? And what I really push our community, and especially allies of our community, is to move beyond the simple. I’m going to post something on my Instagram or on my Twitter, or I’m going to have a unnecessary conversation and a Twitter fight online.
And really start thinking about authentically, what can you actually do to actually make changes? And how are you, can you actually influence changes? So one is like you just mentioned before, having open conversations with those who you wanna reach out to, to support. Two, getting involved.
With many of the queer advocacy organizations nationwide, donating money to them being a part of any local legislative days or rallies that they’re doing in the state or in the local legislatures or what have you. And then three is standing up for the queer youth. Whether it is calling a legislators, calling your local congressmen and local politicians, and really talking about your disdain for any , legislation and what have you.
And then lastly, And I think this is one of the hardest ones that I think we still struggle with is really understanding how to speak up when somebody is either being harassed verbally, whether trans youth or trans adult, queer youth or what have you, and how to actually not only speak up, but also how to support, and especially in conversations when they’re not around, how do you actually authentically talk about the queer community and the trans community when they’re not around, when you’re just with others and something comes up. And how do you not only call people out, but more people? How do you call people in? Because the only way we can actually affect change is not just calling people out for what they said about our community, but how do you actually call people in so that they’re actually, you’re actually growing the ally base nationwide, that you’re not pushing them away, but you’re actually wanting them to be a part of the movement, part of the support group, and I.
That’s a huge challenge. I think this is a challenge that I have because you get angered about some of the statements and you’re like, you know that’s not right. Why would you say anything like that? These children are really suffering, as opposed to really talking about what is it that we can do to help this population?
What did you say that was actually harmful? That can actually be damaging in what can we do differently? Those calling in conversations are harder. Those conversations take practice. There are many resources out there focused on building that skillset that are for free. And I’ll provide those resources afterwards.
But I think those are the simple things that we can do as we really think about the future and we really think about. I’m a big believer that change is always going to happen as much as I, I started off this conversation that I feel a little mixed and I feel not defeated, but it’s not the easiest.
I also know that if we stop fighting, then change won’t happen. But if we continue to fight, we continue to fight for our trans youth, we continue to fight for our queer youth. That change will continue to occur and that this could be considered a small stepping stone to even better change.
Steven: I kind of wanna sit in your lecture.
This is so inspiring. You’re so right. And I think the one anecdote I’ll add is it’s sometimes hard to get enamored with what also happens on social media, right? It’s just like this whole notion of just Maybe taking an incident that happened and instead of addressing it and maybe using it as the opportunity to call in, we go into these separate channels to then put things on just out there and trying to address things in such a separate, siloed conversation sometimes that I’m like, bring it all together. Right. If it’s happening in real time, like what? Be holding us back from showing up. And just like you mentioned, like the hardest conversation are the ones that maybe they’re our friends, they’re our colleagues, right? Who might have not said the best thing, right?
How do we call that in, right? Without saying, ah, they don’t think like that. So I’m just gonna let that pass. And I think that’s been the biggest growth opportunity for me of just even starting. Hey, we don’t say that anymore. Here’s kind of what we say instead. And using that as an opportunity to educate kindly, lovingly to help bring everyone that I love, at least my love language that I’m starting to now see is just being able to bring the people that I love with me on this journey of understanding the plight and struggles of others.
Jonathan: No, definitely. And I love that. And I love that. I love that thing. Love that sense. Coming with love because if you come in with hate, you’re just gonna call people out. But if you come in with love, you really are bringing them in. I love that. That’s wonderful, Steven.
Steven: Thank you professor.
And question for you, just curious, aside from all this stuff that’s happening around you, like what’s bringing you joy lately? What’s inspiring you lately?
Jonathan: So I think for me, the thing that’s ringing the most joy lately has been my residents. They’ve been doing some absolutely amazing things. One of them was recently at the state capitol and was testifying to one of the state committees and what have you, and they’ve been doing some amazing things and that’s, that brings me joy.
Steven: Oh, that’s awesome. Yeah, that’s a big deal too.
That is amazing. And then lastly, follow up question is just how can people find you? How can people get in touch with you, learn more about what you’re doing?
Jonathan: Yeah, I have an Instagram page. It’s jonjon980206, and that’s where my primary social media presence is online and then on Twitter at jt the coupon.
And that’s my other social media presence.
Steven: Awesome. Thank you so much JT for being on you always bring lots of wisdom for us and just really excited for the future and also really happy and supported that we have amazing folks such as yourself and your residents continuously fighting for our liberation, our legislation, and our future.
So thank you so much for that.
Jonathan: Thank you. This was amazing as always.
Steven: Wonderful. And for those listening, thank you as always for tuning in and being a part of our conversation. And if you want to learn more about our work, visit our website @yellowglitterpodcast.com. Or our Instagram handle, yellow glitter pd.
And we’re wishing you the very best and hope your day can be a bit more mindful. Bye now. Take care.