Scholar Class – 2014
Emmett Patterson told his mother (an ER nurse), and his father (a paramedic), that he would never end up in the health care field as they did. However, after coming out as trans, Emmett experienced barriers to accessing affirming and safe health care services. He realized that the field of health care was exactly where he needed to be.
Born and raised in Washington, PA, a conservative area outside of Pittsburgh, Emmett’s process of identity exploration was not welcomed by his community. Experiencing discrimination, first as a queer woman and then as a queer trans man, Emmett committed himself to advocating and educating his community. During his senior year in high school, Emmett was nationally recognized as GLSEN’s 2011 Student Advocate of the Year for founding the first public school GSA in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Emmett studies Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Public Health, with a focus LGBTQIA access to health care, health disparities, and reproductive justice at American University in Washington, DC. As a campus leader, he served as co-director for AU’s Trans* Advocacy Project. He has worked at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Center for American Progress. In every aspect of his work and activism, Emmett stresses the need for LGBTQIA-inclusive health care and how health disparities can impact our communities' life outcomes.