Understanding intersectionality is imperative to being able to lead a group of diverse people. In the world of veterinary medicine we often see patients and clients in a lens that is very binary. Either the cat is hyperglycemic or it is not hyperglycemic. The client either can afford the gold standard treatment or they cannot afford it. Although this perspective is sometimes necessary to deal with medical issues it is never helpful when dealing with members of your own team. My experiences as a member of the LGTBQ+ community have exposed me to the idea that most people have more than one identifying factor and even if some of those factors are not public knowledge, they interact with one another.
Acknowledging an individual’s identities and comprehending how they overlap or interact has made me a better leader. It has compelled me to look at each member of my team as an individual and better understand their perspective on a given topic. As a queer, androgynous looking person, people often try to categorize me and come up short. This forces them to talk with me to better understand my opinion or position which allows for all the nuances that get cut out when we stereotype. Ultimately, I believe being conscious of intersectionality is being aware of previous experiences that have shaped your team members into the people they are today. This understanding has made me a better leader because I can comprehend the oppression or discrimination someone has encountered and I am interested in learning how these experiences individually shaped each person. This allows me to connect with my team members and lead them as individuals and a group.
After receiving this award and talking to friends and family about it, I received a lot of puzzled looks followed by, “What is intersectionality?” Many people inside and out of the veterinary community did not understand that people could have multiple groups or populations that they identify with and that these different identities may be interacting and bringing in new perspectives. There is a lot more work to do to ensure our profession is more equitable. Veterinary medicine can only grow from acknowledging the wealth of identities that people come into our field with. I am thankful that this scholarship has given me the opportunity to discuss intersectionality with others and hopefully open their minds to consider every person as an individual and not just a sum of stereotypes.
Additionally, this scholarship has restored my faith in the veterinary community’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity. When I first started veterinary school, I felt out of place and uncertain about what type of support or mentorship was available to LGBTQ+ students. Knowing that PrideVMC, Merck Animal Health, and many other organizations are trying to make our lives a bit easier is very comforting. This scholarship has been an incredible blessing and has relieved a lot of stress that has been building alongside my vet school loans.
PrideVMC is grateful to Merck Animal Health for supporting the 2020 PrideVMC Diversity Bonus and Intersectionality Awards.
The mission of the Pride Veterinary Medical Community (PrideVMC) is to create a better world for the LGBTQ+ veterinary community by striving to foster acceptance and inclusivity for people of all sexual orientation, gender identities, and gender presentations within the veterinary medical profession and community. We fight discrimination, build collaborative networks, and support LGBTQ+ veterinary students through mentorship and scholarship programs. PrideVMC membership is open to the entire animal health and veterinary community regardless of role, race, color, religion, national origin or citizenship status, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, disability, or military status. Allies are welcome!
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