“Goizueta gave me the confidence and creativity to think about things differently — to ask, ‘Why not?’”
After her undergraduate studies at Williams College, Lowell initially worked as a curator in New York at a gallery. “I hated it. I wanted to be useful in a more concrete way.”
Her decision to study family medicine led her to the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, where she earned her MD. During her residency in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Lowell began to understand the serious needs of underserved populations. “The community of Lawrence is about 90 percent Dominican immigrants, many of whom have very limited access to healthcare,” she explained.
Throughout her childhood, Lowell watched her mother — an attorney — do “good work for what she thought was right — helping those who couldn’t find help elsewhere.” Similarly, Lowell found herself drawn to helping the most underserved populations. During her time in Lawrence, Lowell became aware of the unmet needs of transgender people. She spent time at the Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia, which is exclusively devoted to LGBTQ health and well-being and transgender care. After completing her residency in 2013 and moving to Atlanta with her wife, Emily, Lowell realized she needed an MBA because “the field of medicine is run like a business in the U.S.”
While earning her MBA at Goizueta, she also treated patients, supervised residents at Emory and ran outpatient clinics. “My peers and classmates at Goizueta were amazing,” Lowell recalled. “Goizueta gave me the confidence and creativity to think about things differently — to ask, ‘Why not?’” That drive led Lowell to start an innovative transgender clinic in Atlanta to reach patients without access to affirming care, Queer Med.
“The help I provide — which is pretty basic — saves lives."
Although “Izzy has won awards and accolades for her work with the transgender community, Lowell dreams of a day when she’ll go out of business.“I hope that one day all of my patients will be able to go to their primary doctor and have insurance cover their medical care.”
Lowell noted that many of her patients could be treated by primary care doctors, but many in the medical profession claim to be unable to treat them. In reality,“hormone therapy is far more simple than, say, treating type 1 diabetes.” Lowell cited sobering suicide rates for members of the trans community — 41 percent have attempted suicide compared to 4.6 percent of the general public — and notes that among adolescents, the rates are “beyond unacceptable.”
“Kids and teens are a large part of my practice,” she said. “It’s not often as a primary care doctor that you get to save a life in such a concrete way. The help I provide — which is pretty basic — saves lives. For some teens, it’s ‘transition or die.’ That’s when parents seek me out. They might say, ‘I’m not fully on board with this. I just want them to live.’”
Lowell noted that during puberty, many teens feel “every ounce of hormone pulling them in the wrong direction. A lot of what I do is stopping puberty. If a trans woman grows up to be a 6-foot adult male-bodied person with a square face and jaw, the transition process is more difficult. Some people may choose that, but if she has the option to be 5 feet 10 with softer features, she may be much safer in today’s world.”