Trans Medical Student Jocelyn Ursua Is the Future

Some people aren’t terribly excited about millennials entering the medical field. Reports of laziness and burnout have patients and elders alike apprehensive about their posterity accounting for a hefty percentage of the workforce, especially when it pertains to healthcare. But this shift is obligatory if we are to live through the demise of cisgender, white male ran industries and see the rise of anyone else. I obviously place my interest in the other.

How impactful would it be for gender non-conforming children to be greeted by physicians like themselves? Would it take away some of the preconceived misunderstanding and disinclination? Would it fundamentally shape what they believe they are capable of accomplishing and would the knowledge of a changed young life be fresh wind for the doctor? I certainly believe so, as this was my experience, though on a different scale. After I gave birth to a healthy daughter this summer, my mother shared with me the lengths she had gone to to secure a Black pediatrician for my siblings and I. I remember those foggy, slow days when we were allowed to miss school for the opportunity to sit in a waiting room filled with wide-eyed Black children of varying shades. Mothers in scarves (or crowns? I can’t recall) and their little ones, pacified with small snacks sat along the walls, waiting to be seen by the Black Magi of the town. My mom recently informed me that she was the only Black pediatrician in the area. She wanted her children to be handled a certain way, and also gi the chance to see someone like them doing the Lord’s work.

My daughter’s physician is a tender, Brown woman. The apple fell, the tree stood fast.

Jocelyn Ursua, a 24-year-old, trans medical student living in Texas, fills me with the exact satisfaction my mother felt as she took her babies to be vaccinated and carefully examined for ear aches. The care that she administers to her loved ones (friends gush over her and support her in all of her undertakings due to her eternal compassion), will certainly pale in comparison to the way she will treat her patients. Ursua’s hands are small and her touch gentle – perfect for up-close analysis and reflex tests. If all goes according to plan, she will enter the world of pediatrics upon graduating. She also hopes to work in trans healthcare at some point as well.

She is someone who deserves to be known, so we tapped her for an exclusive interview with CHEAPYXO. Read our conversation with Jocelyn Ursua below.

“When I began to internalize my gender identity this year, something changed within me. After a couple of months, I started noticing the beauty that was in this world.”

Brooklyn White (BW): I know that you grew up in a religious, Filipino family. Can you go into your childhood a bit?

Jocelyn Ursua (JU): From an early age, I had always had effeminate tendencies, such as watching Sailor Moon after school, always playing as female characters in video games, and even imitating the graceful movement of ballerinas in TV shows. Growing up in a Roman Catholic family, my parents were concerned with how others would react to my femininity in the future. As a result, they attempted to impose strict gender roles on me such as scolding me for crying, bending my wrists in certain ways, and even picking female characters in video games. As a child who wanted to please her parents, I did my best to heed their rules, no matter how much it pained me. During high school and college, I began to explore the concepts of gender identity and sexual orientation. From developing friendships with various trans individuals in high school to following other trans women on Tumblr, I learned more about the experiences of transgender individuals over the years. While I identified as a cis gay man during these times, I began to empathize more with the transgender experience, seeing these individuals embrace their gender identities in spite of whatever dissent is thrown at them.

BW: When did you first realize that your transition was meant to be?

JU: When I began to internalize my gender identity this year, something changed within me. After a couple of months, I started noticing the beauty that was in this world. I began to admire the sky, whether it be clear and sunny, or laced with clouds. I noticed how the sunlight would hit the fountain in the early summer afternoon. I never even stopped to look out my bedroom window growing up in the past. I don’t know what it was, but it really felt like my transition was a giant leap forward for me.

For Jocelyn’s birthday, she officially came out as transgender.

BW: How did your family respond?

My history with my family as an individual who identifies with the LGBT community has not exactly been the smoothest. My parents denied my sexual orientation when I came out to them as a cis gay man during high school and college, and unfortunately cited their political views and religious views as means to invalidate individuals such as myself. After some family situations that I had to mediate and their own recent religious pilgrimage, my parents completely exceeded my expectations when they accepted my decision to transition. While there is a lot of work to be done, my parents already made a huge leap by accepting me for who I am and I am looking forward to making them a part of this journey. As a trans/nonbinary individual, acceptance from one’s parents may not necessarily be guaranteed, which is an unjust reality for other trans/nb individuals out there. It is pertinent that parents out there who have successfully provided a nurturing environment to their closeted children continue to do so unconditionally for their own children as well. If lack of experience is a concern, they should go out and look for the resources to learn how to help and support their children during this journey. Parents spend a lifetime learning how to care for their children, and they should continue to do the same as their children go through this process.

BW: We both live in the Deep South, a space known for misunderstanding the LGBTQ community. What’s on your mind as you enter the professional world?

JU: As a medical student in Texas, I am confronted with the pressure to present myself in a way that is acceptable for an industry dominated by a cisgender presence. I am privileged to have access to the means to passing in this work environment, which includes money, transportation, a solid support system, and even health insurance. I am absolutely happy with the progress that I have made and the blessings that have come my way, but it is a reality that not every trans woman out there has the same access to these methods of passing. We should strive to advocate for ways to help trans/nb individuals with their transition, as this improves quality of life for these individuals. Not only that, but employers and other professionals should also strive to make the work environment safer and more accommodating for these individuals, whether they choose to transition medically or not.