Kevin Moore, 51
In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising — in which two transgender activists stood up against police who raided the gay bar on Christopher Street in New York City, spawning the modern Pride movement — our first GeNext profile features an erstwhile actor whose career pivot led him to advocating for the LGBTQ+ community.
Image courtesy of NYU Langone Health
How it all began
At 13, Kevin Moore’s mother crushed his dream of becoming a nurse. And nearly 40 years later, he wouldn’t have had it any other way: “The universe gets you where you need to go,” he says.
“That’s a woman’s job,” she told him, worried that he was gay and that doing a “woman’s job” would confirm that. Despite Kevin’s deep interest in medical specials on PBS, his mother instead encouraged him to become an actor — a less effeminate career choice, in her opinion — which he did for the next two decades.
“It was my first introduction to gender roles; [being a nurse] was not an expected choice for a man at that time. But I had all those beautiful characteristics that femininity brings. I had empathy, I had kindness, I wanted to help people. But the messages I got at home and from society were that, as a boy, I wasn't supposed to be like that," Kevin says.
How Kevin got from where he was to where he is
When Kevin was in his 20s, his close friend transitioned to being female to male — and Kevin said all the wrong things. “I was so ignorant,” he recalls. “Because of him, I woke up to my own prejudice and really started to educate myself about what it was like for trans people.”
In his 30s, Kevin decided to stop acting and began working in the café at the American Girl Doll Store, eventually becoming the allergy and special request point person. "As I went through all the ingredients in our food and came across kids with complex allergies, I became more intrigued by health. But it felt like there was something more I needed to do. I was in the shower when it hit me, remember when you were 13 and wanted to be a nurse? At first I thought it was foolish, but then I thought, wait, you need to investigate this."
At age 41, Kevin finally attended nursing school with his husband’s — and his mother’s — blessings.
When working in a New Jersey emergency room, Kevin saw transgender patients being completely misunderstood by his colleagues and receiving disrespectful care: “Nurses would giggle or blatantly mis-gender patients. [I soon understood that] these patients were doing whatever they could to feel ok in their bodies.” It was clear to Kevin the transgender population had little access to gender-affirming care — and he was thus driven to provide education around the issue.
After a stint at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Kevin landed on the LGBTQ+ advisory council at NYU Langone Health, where he met people who were as passionate about transgender health and education as he was. When the hospital brought in nationally lauded transgender reconstructive surgeon Dr. Rachel Bluebond-Langner in 2017, an “environmental scan” of the hospital made it clear the hospital had much work to do to create the top-tier experience for transgender patients. That’s why Kevin’s current unique role was created: LGBTQ+ Clinical Coordinator and Patient Liaison — a job that blends both nursing and advocacy. The job helps LGBTQ+ patients navigate the oft-complex medical process in an affirming way — whether they’re there for gender-related services, a broken bone, cardiac care or something else — and helps the hospital administration not only follow New York State’s strict equal-rights laws, but go above and beyond.
Kevin utilized his position to create a patient and family advisory council for transgender and gender non-binary care. The council includes trans men and women, parents of trans children and trans people of color — the latter of which are the LGBTQ+ community’s most marginalized population: nearly half of whom live in poverty.
How his past informs his present
Kevin says the skills he learned as an actor make him effective in his career: "As an actor, you grow to understand the complexity of the human spirit. I would get cast as the weirdo… the funny guy… the crazy person… the despicable guy. Even in the worst character, I looked for the humanity.”
He says his actor’s confidence and listening skills are two of his strongest assets: He can more effectively empathize with his trans patients, for example, and quell the ignorance and fear he sometimes encounters when advocating for the LGBTQ+ community. Progress is what fuels Kevin to continue making sure the LGBTQ+ population receives sufficient medical care: “I can see it making a significant change in people’s lives,” he says.
Kevin is back in school earning his post-baccalaureate Doctor of Nursing practice and nursing leadership, a clinical doctorate in which he will inform researchers what he believes needs more research.
“I was heavily bullied as a child because I was gay. And I hated that part of me because it was the part that was made fun of. But now, it’s the part of me that I love. I wouldn’t be able to do my job [without it]. I could obsess over the hate, but that wouldn’t do anything but make me distressed and full of anxiety. So I’ve chosen to focus on the love. Where do I look for love today? And how do I help other people find it? This might not have been the career I started in, but it was the one I was born to do.”