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'Relevance beyond the personal,' Seattle author recounts sexism, discrimination in medical field

caption: Patricia Grayhall in Boston, 1983
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Patricia Grayhall in Boston, 1983
Courtesy of Patricia Grayhall

As a young teenager, Seattle author and doctor Patricia Grayhall recalls believing she was the only lesbian in Arizona.

Her new memoir recounts her struggle to earn a medical degree, explore her sexuality, and weather the sexism and discrimination rampant in the medical field of the 1970s.

When Patricia Grayhall started medical school in the early 70s, she was one of five women in her class of over 100.

She was also a lesbian forced to hide her sexuality to conform to societal standards.

"I was a minority in so many ways," Grayhall said. Her new memoir is "Making the Rounds: Defying Norms in Love and Medicine."

"I had a box that lay unopened in my closet for various closets for at least 40 years," Grayhall said. "I took it out and read the letters and journals of that time when I was coming out as a lesbian in the late 1960s, as a woman training to be a doctor when it was pretty much an all-male profession, and having an abortion when it was illegal in 1969. And I realized that my experience has had relevance beyond the personal, especially now."

Grayhall says she hopes her memoir will act as a guide for young people to learn from and as a validation for other older women, as proof that their lives and experiences have meaning.

"I just would like to inspire those who've ever been told that their passions amount to the wrong feelings and marginalized people struggling to fulfill their dreams that the rest of us take for granted," she said. "And then I guess, as Sean Thomas Dougherty said, 'Right now, there's someone out there with a wound in the exact shape of your words.'"

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