Author Archives: Leah Rorvig

Leah Rorvig

About Leah Rorvig

Leah is a Human Rights Center Fellow and a third-year medical student in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program. She is interviewing transgender women in San Francisco about their experiences in the healthcare system.

He said, she said: Getting your pronouns straight!

What if you needed to wear a button like this when you when to the doctor's office?

As I have previously explained, for my master’s research I interviewed 25 transgender women in San Francisco about their experiences with health care. In this blog I’m going to tell you about the most commonly mentioned issue that comes up in the health care setting: the problem of names and pronouns. The single most common complaint I heard about health care was that receptionists, nurses and physicians refused to use the name or pronouns that a particular transgender person requested. Let me walk you through a fictional example so that you can get an idea of what I mean. Imagine … Continue reading

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The research interview: Never a dull moment

Since I can't show you my actual study participants, I can show you this glamorous office where I conducted almost all of my research interviews!

I am proud to be a “qualitative researcher.” Yes, you are not the first to meet this phrase with raised eyebrows and a cocked head. All that means is that rather than analyzing numbers (so-called “quantitative research”), I analyze words. Qualitative research is ideal for gathering information-rich data. This data can then be used to write surveys, design social or health services, and more. I conceptualize qualitative research as swimming in a pool that is only 2 feet in diameter but very, very deep, whereas quantitative research could involve a vast ocean of data — but one that is only … Continue reading

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Trans March 2011: Healthcare — A right for every body!

Medical students Evie Kalmar and Leah Rorvig at the 2011 Trans March in Dolores Park, San Francisco.

Last weekend was that glorious San Francisco event called Pride. If you live in San Francisco you know it is coming because suddenly rainbow décor predominates over all other possible color combinations. Although most of the events of Pride are to celebrate diverse sexual orientations, one event specifically celebrates gender-identity freedom: Trans March. Held on the Friday of Pride Week, the Trans March started in 2004, at least partly in response to the murder of a transgender teenager named Gwen Araujo. (Gwen Araujo was killed in Newark, Calif.— near Fremont — after her transgender identity was discovered.) Thousands of people … Continue reading

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You’re interviewing who?! Transgender 101

Tom Waddell Health Center in SF

Like my friend who studied chitons, a marine mollusk, for his Ph.D., many graduate students find it challenging to explain their research to the public. I am one of them, as  my master’s thesis project involves interviewing transgender women in San Francisco about their experiences with the healthcare system. That’s quite a mouthful to spring on the unsuspecting at weddings and cocktail parties, and unusual enough that my topic has been selected for this “Berkeley in the World” blog, despite the fact that I’m working right here in San Francisco! My research agenda is often met with raised eyebrows and … Continue reading

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