Meet Iris

Iris at Parade

I Say Yes to Being Me

By Iris, Seattle, Washington

I’m 17 years old and Seattle Children’s has been part of my life since I was 6. I became sick and started having headaches after a family trip to Puerto Rico — and the next thing I knew, I was being treated for brain and spinal tumors at Seattle Children’s.

Iris in HospitalThe team took great care of me. They saved my life, but there was a cost to my treatment. After months of radiation and chemotherapy, I had permanent hair loss and my hearing was also affected. I even had to relearn how to walk. With hard work and lots of physical and occupational therapy, I started to get my life back on track.

Because I have so many providers that I trust at Seattle Children’s, it felt like the right place go when I started thinking about my gender in 9th grade. I was feeling uncomfortable in my body and began to question the gender that was listed on my birth certificate.

Iris and DogsI came to Seattle Children’s Gender Clinic. It’s an amazing place where I can ask questions without feeling abnormal. Since my medical situation is complicated because of my earlier cancer treatment, I needed my providers to think creatively to support my transition.

The cancer and gender teams worked together, and everyone made me feel like I could make my own decisions about my gender and sexuality. It means everything that I have a safe place to get whatever type of medical care I need.

“I don’t want to be defined by my diagnosis, my gender or my sexuality. I am, above all else, a person.”

– Iris, patient

IrisThe most important thing to know about me is that I’m more than the sum of my parts. I don’t want to be defined by my diagnosis, my gender or my sexuality.

I am, above all else, a person.

An Update on Iris

Iris UpdateIris is now a student at Seattle University pursuing creative writing. She has been an avid writer of stories and songs since fifth grade and is currently working on her own novel.

In addition to school and her writing, Iris also makes time to deliver coffee on Saturdays to support her family’s business.

When the pandemic is over, Iris has big plans to hug all of her friends, legally change her name and gender marker, move into the college dorms, and get a pedicure and four tattoos she designed herself.

Although she continues to face obstacles as a cancer survivor and transgender woman, Iris remains resilient.

“When I think back to when I was in the hospital with cancer 12 years ago, I wasn’t expecting to be here today – a student at Seattle U,” Iris says. “Donors make it possible for patients like me to get the treatments they need in order to go on to make breakthrough research discoveries or write the next great American novel.”

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