Meet Sydnee McElroy, our keynote speaker

Let me ask you, what makes a man? 

That question could inspire thousands of different answers, but many people would point to a simple explanation: chromosomes. If you have an XY chromosome, you’re the textbook definition of a man, right? Not necessarily.

Dr. Sydnee McElroy, one of the brilliant hosts of the Sawbones podcast, tells us that what makes a man and what makes a woman is much more complicated than the presence or absence of a certain chromosome.

“There’s definitely a lot of misunderstanding,” she said. “It’s way more than just chromosomes, and that’s important for people to understand.

Sydnee and her podcast co-host use their show to tackle medical misinformation, and they’ll record a live episode of their acclaimed podcast at our upcoming annual gala on October 23 in Charleston. They’ll dive into the strange and complicated history of how science has come to understand gender and its expressions.

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Sydnee’s podcast is a member of Huntington’s well-known McElroy family of podcasters. She was born and raised right here in Huntington, and she continuously uses her platform to advocate for LGBTQ people.

“I was definitely raised to be open-minded, and to lead with love. That’s what it’s all about. Serving others, taking care of others — that’s where we came from. And on a personal level, I’m one of three siblings, and none of us are straight.”

One of Sydnee’s siblings particularly struggled “to be their whole self” and live in their truth. Eventually, Sydnee’s sibling moved away from the area and started thinking about transitioning. As a doctor, Sydnee knew first hand how difficult it can be in West Virginia to find competent, compassionate gender-affirming care. She thought that, after her sibling moved to Brooklyn, finding care would be easier.

“I’ve seen firsthand how hard it can be to find a doctor who is just doing the bare minimum,” Sydnee said. “We shouldn’t be celebrated for just doing our job, which is taking care of someone in an appropriate way that respects who they are and what their goals are. I watched that struggle, and then I turned around and looked at my own community.”

“If it’s that hard for someone in Brooklyn to get appropriate care, how much harder would it be for someone in West Virginia?”

West Virginia is still largely a desert for transgender-inclusive health care, which means many trans people are forced to drive hours out of state to receive the lifesaving care they need. At Fairness, we’re working to change that by partnering with doctors across the region to train them on the best practices.

This year’s gala is going to be an event like no other. Your ticket helps fund our work to continue advancing and protecting LGBTQ people in our own state, and we rely on donations from generous supporters like you to fund the majority of our work.

P.S. We want to thank all of our amazing sponsors for stepping up to make this our biggest and best gala ever! Are you interested in joining these sponsors, or want to buy an ad in our program book? Please reach out to us at gala@fairnesswv.org.