Lauren Radziejewski’s health care specialty is so new to even many medical professionals that she often begins presentations with the evidence for its need. Her empirical approach also helps redirect the range of reactions the topic can bring forth.

“It’s a language that I think most medical professionals respect and understand,” said Radziejewski, ’94, a nurse practitioner and program manager of the transgender program at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. The medical evidence shows that people who identify as transgender have higher rates of depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, substance abuse, and more.

“We, as medical professionals, have an obli-gation to alleviate suffering and prevent it where possible,” she said. “What I tell the people is that the best way we know how to treat those things [in transgender patients] is with gender-affirming services like hormones and surgery.”

These services that better align patients’ physical bodies with their sense of self are one kind of expertise her program offers. Another is the affirmation it offers patients otherwise navigating a world full of the complex choices and pitfalls that come with not fitting neatly into a binary gender identity.

Radziejewski (formerly Eric Radziejewski) knows the importance of that personally. After beginning hormone therapy shortly after college, she kept her transgender identity to herself through the early years of her medical career at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, not even telling her primary care doctor.

I had every advantage in the world, multiple higher degrees, a very good job at the most prestigious medical center in the world, and I fit in,” she said. “If I can’t deal with this, then there’s a big problem.”

Today, at her clinic, transgender patients can be themselves, talk openly about their medical issues, and have confidence they will be cared for with expertise and compassion.