Creating a Safe Space at NEOMED

What does it mean to misgender someone?

What’s the definition of cisgender, nonbinary or intersectionality?

Why has the term sexual reassignment surgery been changed to gender reassignment surgery?

Language matters, said Bruce Menapace, Ph.D., at a recent SafeSpace training session for faculty and staff. Understanding such terms, and why some have changed, is one step toward meeting the goal of the SafeSpace initiative at NEOMED: to provide visibility and support to LGBTQ students. Faculty and staff who have taken the training and signed a pledge to be an ally can be identified by the SafeSpace sticker on their office doors or mailboxes.

Dr. Menapace, a psychotherapist at Cleveland State University, was at NEOMED on two different days to lead the faculty/staff session and another for students.

Why SafeSpace matters

Second-year College of Medicine student Nicholas Osborne, the president of the Q Club at NEOMED, said, “SafeSpace training establishes the visibility of a judgment-free community, an essential image for anyone needing support in the confidence that they belong and are invaluable to said community. For students, as future health care providers, this image is vital in building the best care for our patients, ensuring an institution of compassion.”

Latest issues

Recent changes in the political climate have made life more dangerous for transgender people, said Dr. Menapace. He showed the faculty and staff a collection of photos of transgender people from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds who have been killed in anti-LGBT hate crimes in the U.S. in 2019. African-American transgender women are the most affected, said Dr. Menapace.

“The Trump administration has looked to reverse transgender discrimination protection under the Affordable Care Act. Ten states expressly prohibit transgender care in their Medicaid programs. A record will probably be set this year for the number of transgender people murdered in the United States,” Dr. Menapace wrote in an email before the training.

He added, “Now more than ever, the medical profession is recognizing the need for transgender- competent health care. The NEOMED SafeSpace programs can help students gain some of the familiarity and competence they need to best treat transgender patients.”

Campus Resources

SafeSpace Initiative coordinators Andre Burton, J.D., and Molly O’Malley, M.S.,

Center for Student Wellness and Counseling Services: 330.325.6757 or

The Q Club, NEOMED’s LGBTQ student interest group,

Community Resources

In September, Summa Health opened a Pride Clinic specializing in care for the LGBTQ community. It will provide primary care and refer to other specialties. The Akron Beacon Journal reported that the new practice is located at 1260 Independence Ave. in Akron, next to the movie theater near Chapel Hill Mall. The phone number is 234.867.7740, and appointments are necessary.

TransAlive!Support Group
Fairlawn West United Church of Christ
2095 W. Market St., Akron

Kent State University LGBTQ Student Center

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