Talking pride in the veterinary profession
A Q&A with PrideVMC President Dane Whitaker, DVM, MPVM
June is Pride Month, a time to commemorate the events that took place in 1969 in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City and came to be known as the Stonewall Uprising. On the night of June 28, a violent police raid on the Stonewall Inn sparked resistance and protests among bar patrons and Village residents that lasted several days and became a watershed moment in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in America.1 More than 50 years later, our society is on pace to set a record in anti-trans legislation, with over 300 antitrans bills having been introduced as of this past May.2 PrideVMC President Dane Whitaker, DVM, MPVM, took part in an email interview with dvm360® to discuss the work of PrideVMC on the front lines of this battle and to share how the veterinary profession can have an impact.
What work is PrideVMC doing?
Dane Whitaker, DVM, MPVM, PrideVMC president: The PrideVMC mission is to create a better world for the LGBTQ+ veterinary community. To that end, our priorities are 3-fold:
- Education and advocacy for LGBTQ+ diversity, equity, and inclusion through the lens of antiracism and intersectionality
- Student empowerment through leadership development and mentorship
- Member recruitment, engagement, and outreach
What is the Gender Identity Bill of Rights?
Whitaker:The Gender Identity Bill of Rights (GIBOR) is a document that outlines the baseline rights needed for transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people to exist in the veterinary profession. It was written by a panel of transgender, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, and ally writers, editors, and reviewers.
The GIBOR is important because it serves as a moral and ethical bridge or guidance between legal support for gender diverse rights and what that translates to in the veterinary profession. This is the reason why affinity organizations that support marginalized groups within veterinary medicine have understood its importance and rallied behind it.
What initiatives does PrideVMC have in recognition of Pride Month?
Whitaker: Our Pride 2022 theme is #BetterTogether, and the activities and events listed below are open to all. The details and links to registration for these events can be found at PrideVMC.org/calendar.
What can individuals do right now to make a difference?
Whitaker: There are 2 important things that anyone can do right now to support the veterinary LGBTQ+ community, and they go hand in hand. Put simply, they are education and action. First is to educate yourself about our community, and second is to put that knowledge to use. Learn what struggles we’re facing and what it’s like to walk in our shoes, and then apply that knowledge. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Learn about the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that is being proposed in your area and how you can get involved to support LGBTQ+ folks in your community.
Helping to push back against these laws and standing with your veterinary LGBTQ+ community is a good way to be an ally. Sign the GIBOR, become a PrideVMC member, and help us continue the work we do to create a better world for the LGBTQ+ veterinary community. Even something as simple as introducing yourself with your pronouns in your practice or school is an important step.
- Stonewall riots. Wikipedia. Accessed May 16, 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots
- The state legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ people. The Human Rights Campaign. 2022. Accessed May 16, 2022. https://www.hrc.org/campaigns/the-state-legislative-attack-on-lgbtq-people