Queer Girl Friday: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Races Towards Medical Innovations for Trans Women; The American LGBTQIA+ Athletes to Watch at the 2018 Olympics


I’m Selina, Awards Circuit’s queer Girl Friday for everything LGBTQIA+ on TV! There’s a lot going on this week in the world of television, with the 2018 Olympics kicking into high gear; but first, “Grey’s Anatomy” throws back to their first few seasons with a surgical contest, where a trans plastic surgeon is set to make some major medical history.

The drama series has been speaking up about trans issues more and more this season since the arrival of surgical intern Dr. Chasey, a trans male character played by trans actor Alex Blue Davis. The season has been ramping up for a high stakes surgical contest, throwing us back to the days of harried interns learning the ins and outs of medicine from fast-talking residents, where storylines about revolutionary medicine often took center stage instead of the doctors’ personal lives. Dr. Catherine Avery (Debbie Allen) visited Grey-Sloan on Thursday’s episode with friend and plastics surgeon Dr. Michelle Velez (Candis Cayne), who proposed a new way to revolutionize vaginoplasty, a type of gender affirmation surgery that’s still got a long way to go.

Gender affirmation surgery is a highly technical range of procedures (usually called “bottom surgery” for brevity) that’s only performed by a select few due to its complexities. While vaginoplasty does keep some sensation down there (aka, you can still have orgasms), a vagina post-surgery isn’t exactly the same as a cis woman’s vagina for a whole load of longwinded reasons, including the lack of certain mucous membranes. So instead, Velez wants to use the peritoneum, the sac holding your organs together, in a move which would revolutionize vaginoplasty for trans women. Oh, and the first patient to undergo this procedure? It’ll be Velez, a trans woman herself who’s grown tired of waiting for the medicine to catch up to trans needs. Women get things done, y’all.

Jackson isn’t initially sold on the idea, reluctant to set aside his own entry for the contest, spray-on skin (which is cool, but not awesome new vagina cool) due to the small trans population and thus, low demand for medical advancements in bottom surgery. However, Catherine points that 41% of trans people attempt suicide at some point, and medical advancements for trans people can save lives, too. Jackson’s trepidation represents the apathy many medical professionals have towards trans issues, because, as Jackson says, only a small minority would even be considering the surgery, which already exists and has fair results. But Meredith puts things into real terms for him, pointing out that “1% of the population is still 75 million people.” Trans people matter in the world of Grey-Sloan, and with the Avery-Velez study going full-steam in the coming weeks, we’re sure to see more doctors stanning for trans medical care in the near future.

And now, we turn to Pyeongchang, South Korea, where America’s athletes are set to hit the ice and snow for the 2018 Olympics. This year, we have a record 13 LGBTQIA+ athletes coming from across the world, over double the number of out athletes at the Sochi Winter Olympics, according to OutSports. For whatever reason, there tend to be a lot more LGBTQIA+ athletes who compete in summer sports, with 56 LGBTQIA+ athletes attending the 2016 Summer Olympics in London. Here are the three LGBTQIA+ athletes wearing the stars and stripes we know of so far, and here’s some more info on the rest of our out LGBTQIA+ athletes here.

Adam Rippon

Rippon is the first publicly gay figure skater and the oldest man on the U.S. skating team at 28-years-old. He is also my new favorite person. The Olympian has been making headlines in the weeks ramping up to Friday’s opening ceremony, ripping Vice President Mike Pence’s homophobic views and slaying with some fleek brows. He told OutSports:

“I think sharing my story has made me a better competitor because I don’t really care what other people think of me. I’m able to go out there and I’m really able to be unabashedly myself. And I love myself,” he said. “When I’m able to go out there and just really be me, I’m able to put my hard work forward and I want somebody who’s young, who’s struggling, who’s not sure if it’s OK if they are themselves, to know that it’s OK that there are so many people out there who have the same worries. … If you set your mind to something, you can truly do anything.”

Gus Kenworthy

This Olympic freestyle skier has also hit back at our homophobic VP, calling Pence “a bad fit to lead the United States’ delegation” (see the full interview on Ellen above). He was not out during his first Olympics back in 2014, which he “felt so horrible about” and ultimately regretted. The skier won the 2014 silver medal during the Sochi Olympics and is one of NBC’s faces of the Games (and a part-time shampoo model).

Brittany Bowe

Bowe is a former inline skater turned Olympic speedskater, who previously competed in the 2014 Sochi Olympics but did not medal. She’s won overall gold twice at World Sprint Championships, along with several silver and bronzes.

Which athletes will you be watching during the 2018 Olympics? Let us know in the comments below!