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12 LGBTQ+ Nurses You Should Know About

Updated June 14, 2022 · 5 Min Read

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Nurses can lead policy change against inequity. Discover 12 LGBTQ+ nurses who have promoted healthcare for the community.
12 LGBTQ+ Nurses You Should Know About
Image Credits – Top Left: Lillian D. Wald (Library of Congress / Contributor / Getty Images); Top Right: Bobbi Campbell (Roger Ressmeyer / Contributor / Getty Images); Bottom Left: Margarethe Cammermeyer (Rob Kim / Contributor / Getty Images); Bottom Right: Bertha Wright (Children's Hospital Oakland, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)

Nurses are leaders in developing and carrying out policy changes that protect against discrimination in healthcare. Providing patient care requires a high level of cultural competence that promotes equality and celebrates differences.

Sensitivity and evidence-based knowledge help nurses to meet the needs of vulnerable populations with compassion and professionalism. We highlight 12 LGBTQ+ nurses whose actions have had a significant impact on patient care for Pride 2022. It's important to note that this is by no means an exhaustive list of LGBTQ+ healthcare professionals.

12 Nurses Advocating for LGBTQ+ Patients

Many nurses who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community have advocated for patient rights for years despite the lack of acceptance by society. The heroic efforts of many LGBTQ+ nurses on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community have not been recorded, but their impacts on healthcare persist.

The following nurses have advocated for and contributed to healthcare, research, and education for LGBTQ+ persons. This list for Pride 2022 lists nurses in alphabetical order by last name.

1. Ellie

Ellie is a bisexual woman of color and healthcare provider who is the Inclusive Care Project founder. She started the project when she recognized a need for healthcare training for the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities. The organization's mission is to increase access to training for health professionals and reduce the health disparities for queer communities and people of color.

Ellie's hope is for a "safe(r) healthcare system for everyone." She offers online training and corporate training for organizations seeking to offer education to staff, students, or colleagues.

The goal is to create an inclusive environment and foster a safe space where you work.

2. Billy Caceres

Billy A. Caceres, Ph.D., RN, AGPCNP-BC, FAHA, FAAN, is an assistant professor at the University of Columbia School of Nursing and the Center for Sexual and Gender Minority Health Research. He also serves as an affiliated investigator of the Center for Research on People of Color.

Caceres is the principal investigator of several studies that seek to understand the influence that adverse life experiences can have on sleep quality and heart health in vulnerable adult populations. His work also includes being the principal investigator in the RESTORE Study, examining an association among discrimination, sleep, and blood pressure in the Black and Latin American LGBTQ+ community.

Caceres has received several awards and honors and is the author in seven professional studies.

3. Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer (Ret.)

Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, RN, Ph.D., began serving in the Army in 1963 at 19 years old after her family emigrated from Norway to the U.S. She volunteered for service in Vietnam, where she became the head of the neurosurgical intensive care unit.

After returning home, she was forced to leave the Army because she was pregnant with her first of four sons. It was against regulations to be pregnant or with young children while serving in active duty.

Cammermeyer raised her family and worked in Veterans Affairs hospitals in Washington. By 1988, she was divorced and lost her place in the Reserves when she disclosed she was a lesbian during a security clearance interview.

She challenged the ruling and won reinstatement in federal court. Her story was memorialized in a made-for-television movie, "Serving in Silence."

4. Bobbi Campbell

Bobbi Campbell was born on January 28, 1952. He was just 29 years old when he was diagnosed with "gay cancer," which later became known as AIDS.

Not long after his diagnosis with Kaposi's sarcoma, he wrote an article in The Sentinel in which he described himself as "a 29-year-old, white, gay man who's lived in the city for six years. I work as a registered nurse at Ralph K. Davies Medical Center, and I'm studying at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) for a master's degree in nursing as an adult health nurse practitioner."

Campbell worked to bring more information to light about AIDS. He and Baruch Golden wrote guidelines for safer sex for gay men by gay men.

Soon realizing awareness was not enough, he advocated for people with AIDS to speak up for themselves. He worked tirelessly to defend the rights of gay and lesbian persons and those with AIDS until he died 3.5 years after being diagnosed on August 15, 1984.

5. Kevin Edelen

Kevin Edelen, MS, APRN, FNP-C, is a family nurse practitioner with FOLX Health, which provides gender-affirming hormone therapy services. He works in primary care, focusing on substance misuse and LGBTQIA+ persons. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University.

Edelen works with a team of LGBTQ+ nurses dedicated to providing care to the LGBTQ+ community. They provide virtual primary care, preventive health, and sexual health advice and support in 24 states. Edelen and the FOLX team offer education and support on:

  • Fertility
  • Hormone replacement therapy and gender consultations
  • Nutrition
  • Smoking cessation
  • Sexually transmitted infections testing and care

6. Clare Madrigal

Clare Madrigal, BSN, RN, is an LGBTQ+ nurse educator whose goal is to create inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community in all aspects of healthcare. She has worked to enhance the visibility of LGBTQ+ persons and the issues within the healthcare community that has led to a lack of cultural understanding, discrimination, and less effective patient care.

She began offering her professional services through ReachEducation.gay, which stands for Rainbow Education and Consulting for Health. She believes that visibility increases the ease and familiarity of healthcare professionals working with the LGBTQ+ community.

She is working on expanding cultural competency, which can reshape a healthcare system to be more inclusive of the needs of the population.

7. Florence Nightingale

During the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale pioneered the concept of nursing education and improved the standards of the profession. She developed an analytical approach to care and statistical methods that helped convince others reform was needed in nursing patient care. For example, she created a revolutionary statistical diagram in 1850.

However, Nightingale also continued the unfortunate patterns of elitism and racism that have influenced nursing education. Her racist attitude directly impacted Indigenous children forced into boarding schools in Canada and New Zealand.

While Nightingale's sexuality is the subject of speculation, historians speculate Nightingale may have been a lesbian. Though deeply religious, she never married. In her writings, she acknowledges she slept with other women.

8. Anthony Pho

Anthony Pho, Ph.D., MPH, ANP-C, is an adult nurse practitioner with a passion for the health of LGBTQ+ persons. He is a board member of the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association, health professionals advancing LGBTQ+ equality.

He started his career as a registered nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the emergency room. He currently holds an adjunct faculty position at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and practices as a per-diem provider at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center.

While he was at Weill Cornell Medicine, he developed and taught an LGBTQ+ curriculum for medical residents. He earned his bachelor's and master's in nursing and a master of public health from Johns Hopkins University. He also holds a doctor of philosophy from Columbia University.

Pho promotes health to the community through teaching, clinical practice, and research. He has been awarded several honors in recognition of his leadership and serves on the executive committee of the .

LGBT Health Workforce Conference

9. Em Rabelais

Em Rabelais, Ph.D., MBE, MS, MA, RN, is the assistant professor of human development nursing science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Rabelais is a "white, disabled, queer, femme, and agender/nonbinary/trans abolitionist health ethicist." Rabelais' goals are to dismantle structures that are upheld by whiteness and white feminism oppression.

Rabelais believes that reform is impossible from the inside, and it's "well past time that white people — and especially white, nondisabled, nonqueer, Christian, and cisgender people (and cisgender women in nursing) — cede power and move aside."

Rabelais has published 10 papers in professional journals and received several notable honors.

10. Lillian Wald

Lillian Wald was an American nurse, author, and humanitarian who was well known for her contributions to human rights. Wald never married. Wald revealed she felt intimate affection for at least two of her close companions, according to her correspondence. Her dedication was primarily to her work improving public health.

She was the founder of community nursing in the U.S. and an early advocate of nurses in the public school system. She fought for women's rights and was a supporter of racial integration.

She was also involved in the establishment of the NAACP. She died September 1, 1940, and was remembered at Carnegie Hall a few months later when 2,000 people attended to pay tribute to her contributions.

11. Rachel Walker

Rachel Walker, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, identifes as a "queer nurse inventor who practices public health nursing at the intersection of community and biotech." They are an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Elaine Marieb College of Nursing.

Walker was the first nurse to be named an official Invention Ambassador for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Their clinical background includes oncology nursing, experience in rural emergency response, patient navigation, and humanitarian disaster relief.

Walker believes that technology is a tool to be used in healthcare but should never replace attention to the individual and human dignity. Walker serves in many roles in nursing organizations and at the University of Massachusetts, including as associate editor of the journal Oncology Nursing Forum.

In 2020, Walker received the Global Hero Award from the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Nursing Section.

12. Bertha Wright

Bertha Wright was born in San Francisco in 1840. She was a public health nurse and one of the first school nurses in Alameda County. During her work in public health, she saw a desperate need for baby medical care. She was one of the founders of the Baby Hospital, which later was renamed UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland.

She was a formidable health activist and instructor of postgraduate nursing students at the University of California, Berkeley. She died May 6, 1971, and she is buried next to her partner Mabel Weed in Palo Alto, California.

Page last reviewed June 2, 2022

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