UTMB School of Public & Population HealthPride Week 2022

For Pride Month, SPPH would like to highlight some of the individuals at UTMB who are working to improve the health of LGBTQ+ individuals and to advance LGBTQ+ health equity. These individuals work across many different areas of UTMB, including education, patient care, research, and practice.

Click on their names below to learn more about them and their work.

Also, a huge thank you, to PhD student, Robert Rodriguez, who collected the information below. 

Pride Week Faculty

  • Amanda Peterson

    Pronouns: She/Her
    Title of Profession:
    Nurse Practitioner, Trauma Surgery

    Can you describe your LGBTQ+ Health Equity Work?I am an advocate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s public policy team and have been focusing my efforts on protecting LGBTQ+ youth from the inappropriate and harmful effects caused by conversion therapy. To date, 21 states have adopted legislature banning conversion therapy practices by mental health professionals and 5 states have issued partial protection, but this does not yet include the State of Texas. Legislation was introduced in the Texas state house in 2021. It is important that lawmakers and parents understand that one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity is not something that can be changed, and that an individual who does not identify as heterosexual and/or cisgender is not doing so as the result of mental illness. Youth that are subject to conversion therapy practices may experience resulting depression, anxiety, self-hatred, and rejection by family members, so it is imperative that these harmful practices be stopped.

    What does celebrating Pride, at this moment, mean to you? Celebrating Pride to me personally is about honoring the memory of those who paved the way in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality, from as far back as the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan to present day. It is about remembering those who lost their lives as the result of hate crimes and health care disparities and continuing to advocate for equality in the future. Over the years the celebration of Pride has evolved into the celebration of every person as they are rather than focusing on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The LGBTQ+ community is very welcoming and accepting of people from all walks of life and to me, that is something really beautiful.

  • Dr. Sarah Villarreal

    OB/GYN Assistant Professor

    Can you describe your LGBTQ+ Health Equity work? I am a member of the UTMB Allies and I do transgender care at UTMB. 

    What does celebrating Pride, at this moment, mean to you? Celebrating the things that make us unique and different, not feeling pressured to hide them or pretend like those differences do not exist.

  • Dr. Premal Patel

    Pronouns: she/her/hers
    Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of General Medicine; Co-Director, META Course; Clinical Director, AIDS Education Training Center and Center for Global & Community Health

    Can you describe your LGBTQ+ Health Equity work?

    • As an educator and co-Director of the META course, a first-year medical student course, I have been an advocate of infusing LGBTQ+ focused curricula into medical education so that medical students can better serve their patients from the LGBTQ+ community. 
    • As a clinician, I serve people living with HIV by providing trauma-informed, inclusive, HIV and primary health care.
    • As clinical director of the AIDS Education Training Center, my focus is on training healthcare workers on creating welcoming, inclusive, and trauma-informed practices through an equity lens.  
    • As an advocate, I work with other like-minded people across the institution to champion to address the needs of our LGBTQ+ community. 

    What does celebrating Pride, at this moment, mean to you? Celebrating Pride in this moment in time when there remain forces still trying to dehumanize and strip away rights from the LGBTQ+ community is an act of defiance and resistance. It is an amazing testimony to the power of belonging, validation, and community. I am reminded of a quote from Audre Lorde: "It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences.

  • Dr. Laura Porterfield

    Pronouns: she/her/hers
    Title: Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine; Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs, Department of Family Medicine 

    Can you describe your LGBTQ+ Health Equity work? I've had the privilege of being part of a group that is working to update our electronic medical record so that it will reflect each person's  name, pronouns, and gender identity. It will also include information that will help clinicians offer the appropriate preventative care and screening to each patient based on their specific needs. We anticipate that these changes will make it possible for patients to be addressed in ways that are respectful and to receive the highest level of care each time they engage with UTMB.

    What does celebrating Pride, at this moment, mean to you? For me, it means working to ensure all employees and patients at UTMB feel welcomed, included, valued, and celebrated for who they are. It also means striving to ensure that our LGBTQ+ patients receive medical care that is respectful, high quality, and empowering.

  • Savannah Parks

    Pronouns: she/her/hers
     Patient Resource Specialist/LGBTQIA+ Navigator

    Can you describe your LGBTQ+ Health Equity work? As UTMB’s LGBTQIA+ Navigator, I assist members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies with navigating healthcare and resources within UTMB as well as the greater community.  I manage and maintain our LGBTQIA+ Resources page and have been a player in creating the Transgender Medicine service line here at UTMB.  I am the Chair of UTMB Allies and the Co-Chair of the SOGI Data Committee where we strive to improve and increase access to care and promote more representation for the LGBGQ+ community.  As we push forward with these and other initiatives, I am so thankful to be surrounded by changemaking individuals who are more informed and affected by the policies and services we are so fervently trying to advance.  It takes a village, and our village is bright and bold!

    What does celebrating Pride, at this moment, mean to you? Pride means showing my support as an LGBTQ+ ally and celebrating the progress that has been made as a community.  It is both a celebration of inclusivity and a commemoration of the hard work, dedication, and suffering that took place to get us where we are today while continuing to forge the long road ahead.

  • Dr. Stephen Molldrem

    Pronouns: He/him
     Assistant Professor, Bioethics and Health Humanities
    Twitter: @StephenMolldrem

    Can you describe your LGBTQ+ health equity work? My work related to LGBTQ health equity has primarily centered on federal sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data policy in the US. I mainly focus on understanding how SOGI data has been incorporated into US clinical, research, and public health information technology infrastructures since the 2010s. Since 2015, I have also conducted qualitative policy analysis, ethnographic research, and qualitative interview studies of HIV data infrastructures and their operators, LGBTQ health activists, HIV/AIDS practitioners, and HIV/AIDS activists in the US. I also collaborate with stakeholder groups in LGBTQ health and HIV/AIDS, helping to inform federal policy development related to SOGI data and HIV public health policy. It is difficult for me to disentangle my work in LGBTQ health with my work in HIV/AIDS. This is partly because the ways that public health data about people living with HIV and LGBTQ people are generated and used in the US have both been radically transformed over the last decade or so, largely as the result of changes in the country’s health information technology policy frameworks. Shared concerns around data justice are one reason that struggles for equity for people living with HIV and sexual and gender minorities will remain inextricably linked for the foreseeable future.

    What does celebrating Pride, at this moment, mean to you? I feel very ambivalent about Pride in the US, which has transformed from a set of community-based events put on by grassroots LGBTQ activists starting in the 1970s to a complex series of activities that take place every year across society-at-large, concentrated in June, often with a lot of corporate sponsorship and visibility. Many brands and large firms now treat June as a month to turn their logos rainbow-colored in showings of shallow solidarity. This phenomenon is sometimes called “rainbow capitalism.” I certainly recognize the importance of proactively including LGBTQ people in economic affairs as a way of resisting discrimination and promoting inclusion. However, I am concerned that this kind of consumerism is becoming the primary focus of Pride, potentially de-emphasizing the many deep-rooted economic inequalities that are experienced by LGBTQ people, which are effects of both capitalism and cisheteronormative structures of dispossession that prevent LGBTQ thriving. I am personally most inspired by gay liberation activists of the early 1970s who fought for gay and lesbian communities from a left-wing perspective in the immediate wake of the Stonewall riots, AIDS activists of the 1980s and 90s who used performative activism and direct action to transform biomedical research, and queer activists of the 1990s who played central roles in resisting the gentrification of LGBTQ urban territories and pushed back against an increasingly mainstream gay and lesbian movement. These tendencies in LGBTQ politics advocated for forms of social and economic transformation that most mainstream contemporary Pride discourses do not place at the center of their projects. With that said, I am encouraged by grassroots efforts to reclaim Pride as a grassroots event and to resist the presence of police at Pride, which are demands that have emerged forcefully over the last several years. So, for me at this moment, Pride mainly means continuing to fight against the many forms of state violence, economic dispossession, and social sanction that are perpetuated against LGBTQ people and people living with HIV. We are currently seeing a lot of this in Texas and other states in the form of regressive state-level policies and pieces of legislation that target sexual and gender minorities. Celebrating Pride ought to mean centering and uplifting forms of resistance and struggle in our collective efforts to improve the situation of LGBTQ people in contemporary society.

  • Dr. Shreyas Modi

    Pronouns: he/him/his
    Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine; Director, Heart Station and Cardiac Rehabilitation; Director, Cardiology Inpatient Services; Leader, Cardiology Quality Assurance Program; Physician Advisor, Care Management 

    Can you describe your LGBTQ+ Health Equity work? Heart disease can affect everyone. I am one of the LGBTQIA+ responsive providers at UTMB. I provide them access to care and champion for their causes. I have attended seminars on LGBTQIA+ health issues and being a member of the community, I realize the uniqueness of care and caregiving. There’s more to be done and I am passionate about being an advocate of this community’s needs. 

    What does celebrating Pride, at this moment, mean to you? Pride is being who you are, living your life to the fullest without fear or judgment. It also means an open mindset where people are accepted for who they are. Our lives intersect in many ways, but it is the appreciation of differences that unlocks one’s true potential and creates a better world for all.

  • Dr. Matthew Dasco

    Pronouns: He/him/his
    Chair ad interim, Department of Global Health and Emerging Diseases, UTMB School of Public and Population Health; Associate Professor, Internal Medicine
     +1 409-772-0633
    +1 713-206-3713

    Can you describe your LGBTQ+ Health Equity work? For many years I have been a supporter of the Allies student organization at UTMB.  I have learned a great deal about the LGBTQ+ community from student colleagues, including where I have made mistakes over the years – being an ally doesn’t mean never having mis-steps, it just means having the humility to learn and evolve constantly.  I also consider my clinical practice an open one that provides comprehensive primary care and aims to meet the needs of all populations, including many individuals that identify as LGBTQ+.  

    What does celebrating Pride, at this moment, mean to you? Celebrating pride means continually pushing for equity.  Individuals that identify as LGBTQ+ face many health challenges no matter where they live – so for me doing global health work means being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community both at home and around the world.

  • Dr. Kathleen Kroger

    Pronouns: ​she/her/hers
    Title: Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology

    Can you describe your LGBTQ+ Health Equity work? As a dermatologist, I try to individualize care for all my patients who identify as LGBTQ+ by providing a safe space to access treatments, ensuring available resources, and minimizing barriers to care to promote inclusivity. In my specialty, I frequently care for patients seeking gender affirming nonsurgical procedures such as filler and laser hair removal. I also help treat side effects that can occur with hormonal therapy and am mindful to avoid medications that can interfere with the transition.

    What does celebrating Pride, at this moment, mean to you? ​Celebrating Pride is a celebration of progress, loving oneself, and equality. It is a month where we can recognize all the achievements the LGBTQ+ community has accomplished but also recognize how much more change needs to happen. Everyone deserves the right to be who they are, be happy and love who they love.

  • Dr. Zachary Carson

    Pronouns: he/him
    Assistant Professor, UTMB School of Nursing

    Can you describe your LGBTQ+ Health Equity work? As a primary care geriatric nurse practitioner and newly appointed assistant professor my Health Equity work with the LGBTQ+ community has been limited. I have spent the last three years working with a home bound geriatric population. What I have loved about working with older adults is that they all seem to have a friend or family member encompassed within the LGBTQ+ rainbow. Being an out and proud provider has allowed me to help older adults relate to their loved ones on a deeper level. I have even been lucky enough to help an 87-year-old patient reconnect to her transitioning grandson. Even if I only help one person have a better understanding of the LGBTQ+ community, what I am doing is worth it. In the future, I am looking forward to being a role model to a younger population of students as an assistant professor.

    What does celebrating Pride, at this moment, mean to you? For me, Pride is about visibility. As a kid, I did not grow up with visible gay role models. I am proud I have a career and life that allows me to be unapologetically me. When I came out to my family in the 90s, I did not always think this would be the case. I celebrate Pride month (and every month) knowing I have a loving and continuously supportive family and friends. I love that I get to be a visible member of the LGBTQ+ community. I take pride in knowing I might inspire others to live their best true life!

  • Dr. Lisa Campo-Engelstein

    Pronouns: she/her/hers (most people are moving away from the language of  pronouns and said just saying pronouns because “” implies that gender identity is merely an opinion and that there may be alternatives)

    Title: Chair and Director of Bioethics and Health Humanities

    Can you describe your LGBTQ+ Health Equity work? As a bioethicist, my work in LGBTQ+  health equity focuses on ethical considerations that impact health, such as clinicians conscientiously objecting to treating LGBTQ+ patients and access to fertility preservation prior to gender affirming care.

    What does celebrating Pride, at this moment, mean to you? Given all the anti- LGBTQ+ legislation, Pride is a way for us to come together, embrace who we are, and revel in our awesomeness.

Pride Week Events

Allies in Health, a student organization at UTMB, has a series of events planned during the week of June 20th:

  • Tuesday, 6/21:
    • Pride Merch Giveaway and Photo Booth
      • 11 am - 2 pm
      • Moody Medical Library, Front Awning
  • Wednesday, 6/22:
  • Thursday, 6/23:
    • Seminar: "Banishing Bias: Care and Advocacy for Transgender Patients"
      • Speaker: Aidan Jackson
      • In-person: HEC 3.200/3.201
      • Online option: Info TBD
  • Friday, 6/24:
    • Pride Month Panel: "Being LGBTQ+ in Health Professions" 
      • 12 PM
      • Panelists: Dr. Lisa Campo-Engelstein, Dr. Stephen Molldrem, Dr. Zachary Carson, Robert Rodriguez, Brayant Duran-Mitchell, Danny Roe
      • Click here to register
    • Pride Movie Night
      • 6 PM
      • Hosted by Dean Pfeiffer, VP of Allies in Health
      • RSVP Required - please email