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Being queer in medicine: Vancouver pediatrician reflects on Pride, connecting with patients

Pediatrician talks about coming out at work and moving past internalized oppression
Eva Moore has been a doctor for 18 years, and has practiced at BC Childrens Hospital since 2012. (Photo: Eva Moore).

It’s not uncommon for doctors to keep their personal life private from their patients – but for Dr. Eva Moore, it was a young patient that made her realize celebrating being queer can allow her to connect and ultimately be a better doctor.

The Vancouver pediatrician told Black Press Media in an interview that she was speaking with a longtime patient of hers who had two moms when she happened to share that she herself is a mom and has a wife.

“[She asked], ‘what do you mean, why did you not tell me that?’ I realized oh, maybe that stuff matters,” Moore said.

Moore has put a lot of thought into when and how to explain her identity. Throughout most of her career, she avoided mentioning her identity and marriage to her colleagues, she said. After a long personal journey she is openly queer today.

Moore was raised in Seattle, Washington, before moving to Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, for her undergraduate education. Most of her early medical experience and education was completed in the United States, including medical school and her first residency at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Early life experiences taught her to leave things unsaid to avoid other people’s discomfort with her. A family member asked her to avoid mentioning her identity to her grandmother. She got married during a trip to Massachusetts in 2009, because the state she lived in, Maryland, had not legalized gay marriage at the time.

“I thought about other people a lot rather than thinking about what was best for me, and maybe what is best in general.”

She moved to Vancouver in 2012 with her wife, Hope Forstenzer, when their oldest child was a baby. Now they have two children, aged 11 and six.

In the decade since she began practicing medicine at the BC Children’s Hospital, Moore realized her silence about her queer identity was internalized oppression. She had to work through her personal feelings about being open.

“It is really normal for us to feel isolated when we have differences,” Moore said. “There is always the sense of putting yourself out there and feeling like, ‘am I the only one?’ and ‘am I alone in this?’ But we’re in a time now where people are very accepting and welcoming. So, I feel it has been only beneficial for me.”

Moore chose to specialize in pediatric medicine because young people make her feel optimistic about the future, she said. In her 18 years of being a doctor, she has seen first-hand how teenagers discover who they are and grow into themselves as their brains develop.

Moore said Pride, which is celebrated through June and during a week in July in Vancouver, is both a celebration of queer people and an acknowledgement of the times and places where they are misunderstood or discriminated against.

Queer spaces are important because they are a break from uncertainty, Moore said. When 2SLGBTQ+ folks can gather together, they do not need to worry about coming out or explaining themselves to others.

Eva Moore and Hope Forstenzer married in 2009 in the United States, before they moved from Baltimore, Maryland, to Vancouver when their oldest son was one year old. (Photo: Eva Moore).

About the Author: Morgana Adby, Local Journalism Initiative

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