By Steve Blanchard - March 28, 2022
At 19 years old, Artemis Martinez had to make a difficult decision. She needed chemotherapy to treat her pelvic sarcoma. But to do so, she had to stop her hormone therapy, a necessary part of her transition. Artemis identifies as a transgender female.
“I understood why I needed to stop the hormone therapy for chemotherapy and surgery,” she said. “But I always knew I would return to it once I got the all-clear from my doctors.”
Fortunately, Martinez felt supported by her care team at Moffitt Cancer Center and, while she did need to correct the use of her pronouns occasionally, she said she was open to educating others about her identity.
“It naturally causes confusion when they read a male name but see a female person,” Martinez said.
Martinez’s case is just one example of how Moffitt’s inclusive policies helped secure its ranking once again as a Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality on the Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index. This is the 10th time the cancer center has been named to the list.
“We as an institution are so proud of this designation because it highlights that our mission to prevent and cure cancer is for everyone, regardless of their background, sexual orientation, gender identity or culture,” said Cathy Grant, vice president, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer. “Everyone deserves the best cancer treatment and care available, and patients and their families deserve to be comfortable in that treatment environment. It’s an honor that Moffitt is recognized as a safe place for the LGBTQ+ community to come and receive the care they need and deserve.”
"It’s an honor that Moffitt is recognized as a safe place for the LGBTQ+ community to come and receive the care they need and deserve."- Cathy Grant, Vice President, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer
A record 906 health care facilities participated in the 2022 HEI survey and 496 of those earned an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader designation. The HEI evaluates and scores health care facilities on detailed criteria in four areas:
- Foundational Policies and Training in LGBTQ+ Patient-Centered Care
- LGBTQ+ Patient Services and Support
- Employee Benefits and Policies
- Patient and Community Engagement
“Every person deserves to have access to quality health care, be respected and heard by their doctor, and feel safe in the facility where they are receiving care,” said Tari Hanneman, director of Health & Aging at The Human Rights Campaign. “But LGBTQ+ people are often subject to discrimination in all spaces, including health care facilities, which leads to members of the community avoiding care and anticipating our voices will not be respected in an incredibly vulnerable environment. The Healthcare Equality Index, at its core, strives to ensure LGBTQ+ people are protected and affirmed by their health care providers and feel safe seeking services. Our HEI active participants are truly pioneering the health care industry by implementing robust, comprehensive LGBTQ+ inclusive policies that hopefully, because of their work, will become standard practice.”
In addition to the nearly 500 facilities receiving a maximum score, another 251 facilities earned the Top Performer designation with scores between 80 and 95 points and at least partial credit in each section. With 82% of participating facilities scoring 80 points or more, health care facilities are demonstrating concretely that they are going beyond the basics when it comes to adopting policies and practices in LGBTQ+ care.
And the adoption of those policies makes a world of difference to patients like Martinez, who said she felt like her individual and unique needs were met at every turn.
Today, Martinez is a healthy 21-year-old and there is no evidence of disease. She said the next step is to begin her hormone therapy and plan for sexual reassignment surgery.
The secret to making it through a cancer diagnosis, according to Martinez, is a supportive health care team and thinking of long-term goals and never letting anxieties get the best of you.
“I felt welcomed at Moffitt,” she said. “I felt loved, cared for and supported. That made such a difference for me.”