In August, Gavin Raner, a third-year medical student at Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, became the first trans-masculine and non-binary-identifying person to receive a Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (CMHF) Award.
Growing up in a small conservative area and as member of a first-generation immigrant family, Raner had struggled to find a family doctor. They also noticed a lack of accessibility and information available for trans medicine and young people looking to transition. This motivated Raner to pursue medicine to improve accessibility and equity in healthcare and to help people like themselves.
Upon entering medical school, Raner helped implement curricular changes for equity, diversity, inclusion and decolonization (EDID) at Schulich while serving as Schulich Medicine’s student council co-vice president of EDID. They are also working on research focused on reducing barriers for patients seeking gender-affirming top surgeries and improving the curricula on 2SLGBTQ+ health education.
Raner’s efforts to make medicine a safer, more inclusive and accessible space for transgender and non-binary people echo the source of their inspiration, CMHF’s 2007 Laureate Dr. Elizabeth Bagshaw – one of the first women in Canada to pursue a career in medicine during a time when women were not accepted in the field. Bagshaw championed women’s reproductive rights and was the medical director of Canada’s first birth control clinic to provide a safe space for women.
The CMHF Award recognizes young leaders who exemplify the qualities of Hall of Fame laureates, including perseverance, collaboration and an entrepreneurial spirit. Raner was one of 13 medical students across Canada to receive the award this year.
How did you feel when you learned that you received the CMHF award?
It was shocking, but also encouraging because a lot of the baggage that I take into medicine with myself is just there is no one I can look up to – there’s no non-binary trans-masculine doctor working in southwestern Ontario as far as I know. So the whole time it’s just keeping my head down and thinking “maybe one day when you’re a doctor, somebody like yourself can get help from me and see themselves in some sort of medical field position”.
It’s nice to see that these sorts of struggles and experiences are valued and are being recognized by this award, for example.
How does Dr. Elizabeth Bagshaw inspire you?
As someone who is pro transition in a time now when a lot of people are against it, her story and quiet bravery inspires me. She just wanted to be herself and her presence was representation, essentially.
Whatever my career direction is, I want to make a difference for people like myself, whether that’s directly by providing trans surgeries and operations, or just by providing representation so that other people can be inspired to be themselves and still be in medicine.
What are your future goals?
One area of focus is to help influence Ontario public policy to improve funding for transition-related services and surgeries in general. But helping in areas where help is most needed, as Bagshaw did, is also one of my top priorities.
It would be nice to be in a big-city practice. But at the same time, I think what I would value most is being in a place where I can provide the care that is not readily available today.
This story is part of our Endnotes 2022 series which showcases the people behind some of the year’s most compelling Western stories.