Lindsay Toman

Lindsay Toman

Lindsay Toman

Ph.D. student, sociology with a focus on medical and LGBTQ studies

A recipient of the Eugene V. Perrin Memorial Scholarship in Health and Science and Peace (2018), the Goodman/Hankin Scholarship in Health and Economics award (2017), and the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF), Lindsay Toman will present her research on the relationship between the LGBTQ and health care providers at the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) Conference in Philadelphia this August.

A St. Clair Shores native, Lindsay grew up right outside Detroit. Her parents made weekend day trips to Tigers Stadium and the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), and pit stops at Lafayette Coney Island. “Those memories make the city feel like home,” she says.

Today, she can better appreciate “how proud people are to claim the city.” So when she decided to pursue a doctoral degree close to home, Wayne State was the obvious choice.

With a master’s from East Tennessee State University under her belt, Lindsay wanted to better understand the relationship between LGBTQ individuals and health care providers.

“I have always been an advocate for the LGBTQ community,” she says. “I had friends who came out in the past and faced challenges because of this. As a heterosexual cis woman, I wanted to use my privilege to advocate for these marginalized groups.”

A gender studies course she took as an undergrad incited her passion for sociology and shed light on a means by which she knew she could help the LGBTQ community.

Funding from scholarships and the ASF allowed Lindsay to conduct “focus groups with LGBTQ individuals and physicians." She recruited participants from Corktown Health Center. The sessions addressed health care providers’ comfort levels in serving LGBTQ patients and the training they’d received to create safe spaces, she says.

“A lot of medical students who identify as LGBTQ started coming to my focus groups, which was indicative of a need in the space. The students seemed torn between the two identities. There are certain professional expectations on how doctors go about their day, which may not necessarily cater to LGBTQ individuals.”

Lindsay used the focus groups to research how that gap can be bridged.  

“From the insight, I created the LGBTQ and You manual. … The training is pretty introductory and includes items such as using the right pronouns and how to create safe spaces.”

Within two years, Lindsay has moved from conducting those focus groups to sharing the resulting training program at the Michigan State University medical school, the Detroit Medical Center (DMC), and the Department of Psychology here at WSU.

Lindsay envisions teaching in a tenure position or working to further advocate for the LGBTQ in a research facility after earning her Ph.D.; opportunities she knows are possible due to her stint at Wayne State.

“I would say I have found my voice and confidence as an academic. I previously knew what I wanted to do but did not know what exact niche to focus on. But being here as a graduate student…I am bridging the gap between advocacy and education through my research.”

Her tips for other students to make the most out of their graduate school experience?

“Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Graduate students get what they put into it. Try to connect with your professors and other students. Network.”