By Emily Paton Davies, Senior Writer/Content Editor
“We’ve found that we’re quite a team,” Lowell, FNP, a nurse practitioner and clinical manager on the Boulder campus, said about working with Raedel, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and embedded therapist in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. “We’re both very passionate about the work we’re doing to help the CU community walk the talk of being a progressive and inclusive university,” she said.
Both Lowell and Raedel acknowledge CU Boulder’s support of the Transgender Care Team – from top leaders and the entire campus – has been critical to its continued success and evolution. While various forms of transgender and gender-affirming health care have been available on campus since the early 2000s, the team took its current shape a handful of years ago.
“We’re so grateful to have the backing of the university,” said Raedel, who, with Lowell, has presented the CU transgender care model to universities nationwide. “It enables us to engage in systemic level advocacy and be open and loud about our presence.”
And people are taking note of that presence as well as its impact: This month, the Transgender Care Team is receiving the Joanne Arnold Courage and Commitment Award, honoring its contributions to the LGBTQ+ community on campus and beyond. The award is named after the late activist, CU alumna, professor and associate dean emerita of CU Boulder’s former School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
But Lowell and Raedel have no time to bask in any glory. They’re too busy developing and delivering safe platforms by which students can explore gender identity and sexuality. Just last month, the duo implemented a weekly, hourlong, virtual workshop, which students can attend regularly or drop-in when they feel so inclined. “We’re focusing on exploring and defining various dimensions of sexuality and gender, as well sex anatomy, safe sex, consent and other related topics,” Raedel said. “Developmentally, it’s a great fit for students who have questions about their identity, or who seek medical and psychological consultation about these topics.”
“These subjects are integral parts of what Daniel and I do clinically every day,” Lowell continued. “It’s exciting to have an hour every week dedicated to these conversations because things shift and change and are on a continuum that ebbs and flows for some people. Some students have never had the space to explore this safely and, as a result, they develop mental health consequences or partake in risky behavior.”
As the workshop continues to gain traction, Lowell and Raedel are already thinking about its next iteration. “We’ve talked about making it more of a formal, clinical visit where students could get cotreated by a psychologist and a medical provider. A one-stop-shop situation,” Raedel said.
Given current “safer-at-home” advisories associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the workshop’s current format is working well. “The virtual experience is more comfortable for some students, especially those who identify as nonbinary, trans and gender fluid. These individuals tend to access care less because they often don’t trust medical services, which historically haven’t been very welcoming or inclusive,” Lowell said.
Inclusivity is top of mind for Lowell and Raedel as talk turns to this year’s Pride celebration, but it’s a core value that guides them every day.
“There’s a lot of convergence of intersectional themes in our dialogue nationally around race, racism and how that interfaces with queer identity,” Raedel said. “There are events sprouting up supporting queer folks of color that I’m getting involved in this year.”
“It’s interesting that things are colliding at the same time,” Lowell said. “The increased dialogue around race and racism is pushing people to do their own work. As a nurse practitioner, I’ve always been inspired to do that. I don’t want people coming to me for medical care to feel like they need to teach me about who they are or how to treat them. I want to be open and empowering and affirming of everybody who walks through my door.”