Vote now for LGBTQ Nation’s 2023 Innovator Hero

A doctor with a rainbow flag badge
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Innovation comes in lots of forms, from new products and technologies to new people and perspectives where we haven’t seen them before.

The nominees for our 2023 Innovator Hero are responsible for both.

Vote now for LGBTQ Nation‘s 2023 Innovator Hero

Married father of two Dr. Jesse M. Ehrenfeld is the first gay president of the American Medical Association and working for equal access to healthcare for all, including LGBTQ+ people.

Bisexual college student Joshua Tint developed the Discover Me app, designed to help people of all ages who are questioning their gender identity.

HIV expert Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo is the first LGBTQ+ person to head the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

And 17-year-old nonbinary student Linden James won a $90,000 science prize for their work on a therapy for traumatic brain injuries.            

Innovators all, these brainy nominees share more than an LGBTQ+ identity: a selfless devotion to service and helping others.

Vote now for LGBTQ Nation‘s 2023 Innovator Hero


Dr. Jesse M. Ehrenfeld 

YouTube screenshot Jesse Ehrenfeld the soon-to-be president of the AMA

In June, Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, and an out, gay married father of two, was inaugurated president of the American Medical Association.

A long list of notable accomplishments preceded his election, the kind of resume that begs the question: Where has the 44-year-old found the time?

His list of titles includes senior associate dean, tenured professor, adjunct professor, founding director, co-chair, and consultant at prestigious institutions, including the World Health Organization, the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Uniformed Services University, and Vanderbilt University, where he was a founding Director of the VUMC Program for LGBTQ Health.

He’s a Navy combat veteran.

In 2019, in his capacity as special advisor to Donald Trump’s Surgeon General, he testified before Congress against the president’s gratuitously cruel ban on trans service members.

Yet despite all the bona fides, Ehrenfeld says he comes to the job from a patient’s perspective.

“I’ve experienced the health care system as a gay person, as a gay parent, as in many ways wonderful positive experiences and other ways, some deeply harmful experiences,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this year. “I know that we can do better as a nation.”  

He also pledged to fight gender-affirming care bans.

“We simply will not stand for the government coming in to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship [by passing bills that] outlaw what we know to be appropriate, evidence-based clinical guidelines-based care,” he told the Washington Blade.

Josh Tint

Josh Tint (screenshot)

Nineteen-year-old Josh Tint spent a good part of his freshman year at Arizona State University on an extracurricular activity close to his heart: developing an app called Discover Me, designed to help people who are questioning their gender identity.

“I’ve questioned my gender identity and so I know there aren’t many resources out there to help with that,” Tint shared with Apple, who honored the young coder at their Worldwide Developers Conference last summer. “So I wanted to try to build a tool that I thought was more applicable to my experience and could help others, too.”

Discover Me works a little bit like a dating app, with options for different names and pronouns instead of potential dates. Swipe right for a set you like — displayed in different everyday contexts — and left for no thanks. The results, Tint says, can help users “get a feel for whether you think a certain gender pronoun matches your identity.”

Discover Me dropped in Apple’s App Store in November.

The Apple nod earned Tint, who identifies as cisgender and bisexual, a one-on-one with Tim Cook, the tech giant’s out CEO.

“He was very nice,” the ASU junior told People last fall. “Having validation from him that my app was useful is — I mean, there’s not a better person on the planet to hear that from.”

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo
University of Alabama Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo

This month, the National Institutes of Health announced Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, an HIV expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, will head up the agency’s infectious disease organization.

Marrazzo replaces longtime NIAID chief Dr. Anthony Fauci, who oversaw the U.S. responses to the HIV epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic.

She’ll be the first out LGBTQ+ person to take on the role, administering a $6.3 billion budget supporting research and the treatment of infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases.

The 61-year-old grew up in Pennsylvania near Scanton, was valedictorian of her high school class, and studied biology at Harvard. She attended medical school at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

In 1995, Marrazzo co-founded the Lesbian/Bisexual Women’s Health Study at the University of Washington School of Medicine, earning NIAID funding to investigate STIs among queer women.

NIAID’s new chief became a trusted source of information in the media during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing clear explanations of the disease’s pathology and even a little humor as Americans grasped for a sense of normalcy in a grim time.

She’ll need some laughs as she replaces Fauci as a target for the anti-science crowd.

“She’s known as an exquisite clinician. She’s known as an exquisite teacher,” one former colleague told NPR.

But, she said, “Nobody’s going to be universally beloved.”  

Linden James

Lynden James
Lynden James

In March, nonbinary 17-year-old high school senior Linden James was taking a break from their studies at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham after submitting a promising entry to the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.

“When I found out I was a finalist, I was at softball practice and started screaming,” James told The News & Observer in Raleigh. They had just won a $90,000 prize for their research into traumatic brain injuries.

The accolade was one in a long list of achievements for James, who has spent most of their time as a teenager in the service of others, as a volunteer with the National Harm Reduction Coalition, as a sexual education advocate in Durham schools, and as Outreach Director for the LGBTQ Center of Durham, among many other organizations and causes.

Their award-winning project investigated the possible benefits of a thyroid hormone to treat traumatic brain injuries in humans, using wax moth caterpillars as subjects.

This fall, they’ll be studying at Sciences Po in Paris and Columbia in New York.

“I grew up in a family with two moms in a community that wasn’t always very accepting,” James said of their science award. “And so coming this far is really empowering for me.”

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