Andy Cantor, MS, LCGC
® (she/they/he) is a prenatal genetic counselor at Integrated Genetics. Andy is a non-binary person and a certified trainer on gender inclusive care.
Why did you choose to become a genetic counselor?
I fell in love with genetics in college and knew I wanted to combine my love of science with my love of connecting with people. It was an easy choice once I found genetic counseling.
Can you tell us about your current role as a genetic counselor?
I work in a high-risk prenatal clinic in Brooklyn. I also provide talks and trainings on gender inclusivity and competency within my company and for the genetic counseling community.
What has it been like for you as a genetic counselor who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community?
At first, very lonely. I have to admit I felt isolated and unsure how to find my community. I identify as a non-binary person, which sometimes feels like you’re claiming to be from another planet. I wasn’t out in my professional life for a very long time. Now that I’ve come out as part of my work to improve care for trans and non-binary patients, I am finding more and more that I am not alone at all.
How has being part of the LGBTQ+ community influenced your work as a genetic counselor?
Being a genetics nerd and a genderqueer person gives me a unique perspective. The way I talk about sex and gender is very different from what most of us were taught in grad school. Being a non-binary genetic counselor with a personal community of trans and non-binary people makes me passionate about educating the genetic counseling profession on how we can think about these concepts differently and more inclusively. I truly believe that will make care better for everyone.
What advice do you have for members of the LGBTQ+ community who are referred for genetic counseling? What advice do you have for genetic counselors and other health care providers caring for their patients who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community?
To the LGBTQIA+ community I would advise to be careful and to ask around first to find a provider who you know will be respectful. I wish I didn’t have to give this warning, but I know that right now we still have a long way to go. To the health care providers, please seek out competency training. You don’t know what you don’t know. We’re not taught this stuff in school and it’s easy to really negatively impact patient care if you don’t have some awareness around gender identity concepts. Please contact me if you need help getting started.
What guidance do you have for prospective genetic counselors who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community?
We need you. You belong in this community and you are not alone. Come help us change things for the better. You can feel free to reach out to me with any questions: Cantora@labcorp.com
ABGC Spotlight is a monthly series that features Diplomates, health care professionals
and students sharing their unique experiences with genetic counseling.