A Pathway to Inclusion
Meet Kevin Moore. He’s the LGBTQ+ clinical coordinator and patient liaison at NYU Langone Health. He’s also helping to change the landscape of LGBTQ+ care at NYU Langone.
You’re in a unique role for nursing.
At my last count, there were fewer than 10 roles like mine inside a hospital setting across the country, and nothing quite as unique as mine. I help transgender and LGBTQ+ patients get care that’s affirming and proficient. It’s a varied role with aspects of policy, direct patient care, advocacy, and navigation.
Navigating patients through the system is the part I love the most. If they need specialists, I get them to specialists. It’s my job in finding the right person to take care of you. That’s how I take care of you. I always tell patients, “don’t go fishing—that’s why I’m here.”
How did you find gender-affirming care as a profession?
My interest in LGBTQ+ health has always been there because I identify as a gay man, but I really began to understand the issues involving transgender health when I was working in an ER at another hospital. I saw how a patient was treated differently and not in an affirming way, and I was confused by it. I didn’t understand why my peers weren’t using the patient’s chosen name and pronouns. I didn’t understand why people were giggling outside the room. I didn’t understand why all of us were so at a loss about how to properly care for this patient. But that ignorance, that mistreatment – that’s how it was for trans people at almost every hospital or medical environment that they went to.
So fast forward to NYU Langone: when I heard that Dr. Bluebond-Langner was coming, and she was going to build this transgender center of excellence, I knew I wanted to be a part of it!
What does it take to care for gender-affirmation patients?
This is a group of really marginalized people who have been badly mistreated. They have dismal statistics around employment, and are almost 4 times more likely to be unemployed than the national average. The national average for suicide in the general population is a little over 4% but for trans people, it’s 42%. It’s horrible. We need to change that. We need to be screaming at the top of our lungs.
As a nurse, you have to be passionate. It has to be palpable. You really have to want to make a difference. You have to educate yourself continually about why it’s so important to be doing this work.
How is NYU Langone becoming more trans-friendly?
I helped create a patient and family advisory council, which is for trans and gender non-binary people, and it’s diverse in color as well as gender identity. They are helping us shape the transgender center of excellence. The last thing we want to do is say, “this is how we think it should be.” We want their input. We want them to tell us how to build it.
When Kimmel Pavilion opened, we walked the whole hospital with the advisory council and asked for their input on areas that showed inclusiveness, and non-inclusiveness. A scan of the environment, everything—from the paintings to the tables. They noticed the non-discrimination policy downstairs, but they didn’t see one upstairs. That sort of thing. You become desensitized when you walk a space every day. That’s why you need somebody else’s eyes. We need their voices and wisdom.
You’re also changing the culture for NYU Langone staff…
I just finished working with NYU Langone’s HR team on writing gender-affirming guidelines for employees who will transition. The guidelines are most importantly for the person who’s transitioning, giving them an ability to have a supportive environment as they take those steps. But, it’s also for their colleagues—their supervisors, colleagues—helping them navigate what they need to do to support the person transitioning. It’s an affirming and inclusive map. We will be the only hospital in New York City that has it. I’m super proud of it. The patient and family advisory council helped so much with the editing and suggestions on it. We could not have done it without their input.
At NYU Langone, we’re really leading the way to establishing inclusive and affirming care across the board, educating our staff and calling them into the conversation of inclusiveness. I’m really proud of the institution for doing that. We’re really making a difference in the health disparity of LGBTQ+ people.
You started out with a career in acting. What brought you to nursing?
Here’s the deal. I wanted to be a nurse when I was thirteen years old.. I told my mom and she said “Absolutely not, no way. That’s a woman’s job.” So my mom’s reaction sort of crushed my dream. I didn’t pursue it. I pursued an acting career. I was an actor for 20-some years. In my early 40s, I felt like acting wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I was always away. I missed my husband. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and one day it just hit me in the shower—“remember when you wanted to be a nurse?” And I was like, “Wow, OK! Nursing.” So I called a couple of my cousins who were nurses, and they said, you’d be great at this! Go volunteer and see if you like it. So I worked in hospice. And I loved it. I thought, this is really what I want to do.
Any overlap between acting and nursing?
My training as an actor, interestingly enough, is to listen. Any actor will tell you it’s not what you say, it’s how you listen. That’s very true of nursing—how you walk in and assess the energy in the room. You have to trust your instincts: knowing when to speak and not speak; allowing the patient to have a process and not take it personally—you can’t learn that in school. It comes with experience.
Do you have a nursing philosophy?
There’s a quote by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor who wrote “My Stroke of Insight.” She’s a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist who actually documented her experience of having a hemorrhagic stroke. She couldn’t speak and said clinicians would come in the room and just talk over her—to the family member or friend that could talk back. She wrote, “I really need people to take responsibility for the kind of energy they bring to me.” That speaks volumes to me. Drop your baggage at the door. Walk in as best you can with an open mind and the ability to be surprised. Just focus on the patient.
Elevator pitch: why should someone support nursing?
Nursing can play a pivotal role in the care of marginalized people. We know that nurses have been change agents. Think about it. Florence Nightingale did it with infection, Sister Jean Ward did it with jaundiced babies, and the nurses—like the ones here at NYU Langone—who decided to make skin-to-skin contact with AIDS patients and embrace them with compassion and kindness when others turned their backs, all changed the way we worked and approached caring for those patients.
Support an institution that is leading the way. We care, and we’re doing things no one else is doing. You can be a driver of change.
Kevin Moore, BSN, RN, is the LGBTQ+ clinical coordinator and patient liaison at NYU Langone Health.