Crowd of people celebrating Pride In Burlington, VT

UVM Medical Community Celebrates 40 Years of Pride:

Advocacy, Inclusivity, and Health Care Equality

September 11, 2023 by Angela Ferrante


On Sunday, September 10, the Larner College of Medicine, in collaboration with the UVM Cancer Center, the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, UVM’s Prism organization, and UVM Health Network, proudly participated in Burlington’s annual Pride Parade. This year’s event held even greater significance as it marked the 40th Anniversary of Vermont’s inaugural Pride march, themed “Ruby” to symbolize the community’s achievements and enduring unity.

Beyond the parade, highlighted by Albany-based drag queen Philly Pena’s vibrant performance, a strong sense of solidarity and support enveloped the community. The importance of Pride celebrations remains as crucial as ever, focusing on enduring challenges related to LGBTQIA+ equality, advocating for visibility and representation, and addressing global human rights issues. Pride serves as a catalyst for mental well-being, education, unity, and acceptance, while also addressing resistance and fostering change, all while highlighting the strength of a supportive community and the ongoing fight for a world characterized by equal respect for individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Person performing under multicolor balloons on a parade float

Drag Queen Philly Pena performs at the 2023 Pride Parade in Burlington

Two students standing at their booth for transgender youth support

Molly (L) and Julia (R) at the 2023 Pride Celebration

Illustrating the Larner College of Medicine’s commitment to compassionate, patient-centered care, Molly Greenblat and Julianne Scholes, both from the Class of 2026, tabled a booth based on their Schweitzer Fellowship project, “Expanding the Transgender Healthcare Network in Vermont.” The students were awarded a Schweitzer Fellowship earlier this year for their proposed project. Founded in 1996, the NH/VT Schweitzer Fellows Program is one of thirteen currently active Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) program sites across the U.S. and is dedicated to developing a pipeline of emerging professionals who enter the workforce with the skills and commitment necessary to address unmet health needs. In partnership with the Pride Center of Vermont, their efforts identified and strengthened the network of clinics and providers offering gender-affirming care throughout the state. This initiative produced guides to facilitate access to care, supporting both patients and providers in overcoming barriers and ensuring high-quality health care delivery.

“We appreciate the dedicated educators supporting gender-affirming care. Many of our planned guides and resources aim to simplify existing information. By streamlining providers’ and patients’ access to information, we hope to make gender-affirming care more accessible,” Greenblat expressed. “The Pride Center serves as a vital resource hub, fostering a network of confident providers for better patient outcomes.”

Scholes echoed Greenblat’s sentiments. “Learning about gender-affirming care in Vermont has shown us the impact we can have as providers of care working in the community beyond individual appointments with patients."

For health care professionals, Pride holds profound significance. Collaborations between health care organizations and LGBTQ+ groups underscore the importance of inclusive care for patients irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This commitment aligns with the principles of equitable treatment, eradicating health care disparities and creating a secure and respectful environment for both patients and providers. Embracing Pride cultivates empathy, strengthens trust, and ultimately improves patient outcomes. Furthermore, it serves as a conduit for education, promoting cultural competency and tackling biases to ensure the provision of quality health care. By actively participating in Pride, health care practitioners affirm their dedication to inclusivity, actively contributing to wider societal acceptance and equality within the health care landscape and beyond.

Randall Holcombe, M.D., director of the University of Vermont Cancer Center, emphasized the significance of compassionate care and inclusivity. “The Pride Center of Vermont has long been a pioneer in promoting inclusive cancer screening,” he said. “We’re honored to join forces in spreading the word about cancer screening and prevention to reduce the burden of cancer on LGBTQIA+ Vermonters.”

Holcombe also highlighted UVM Cancer Center resources, including the “Got ’Em, Screen ’Em” and “Got It, Pap It” campaigns, which are nationally recognized and designed specifically to aid members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Group of people arm-in-arm enjoying Pride

(L-R) Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Margaret Tandoh, M.D., UVM Cancer Center Director Randy Holcombe, M.D., Jeannie Page, Larner Dean Richard L. Page, M.D., Angela Russo '25