Mayo Clinic apologizes to LGBTQ+ employees for having ‘transphobic’ doctor at conference

(ABC 6 News) – Mayo Clinic is issuing an apology to LGBTQ+ employees for inviting a doctor to speak at a Mayo conference that LGBTQ+ activists claim is ‘anti trans’.

On March 5, 2024, Mayo Clinic invited Dr. Mary O’Connor to be a keynote speaker at the “Advancing Academic Career Excellence for Women 2024” conference at its Florida campus. Dr. O’Connor is an Emeritus Professor.

Members of the Rochester MN Pride board received and posted the incident and message to LGBTQ+ Mayo Employee Resource Group members.

Jennifer Winter, the chair of Rochester Pride’s Board of Directors, says Dr. O’Connor “routinely expresses her view that trans women are not women and advocates for the exclusion of trans women in many aspects of regular life,” including bathroom access, changing room access, and other public spaces.

Winter also says Dr. O’Connor “has a long history of misgendering and outing trans women, mocking their appearance, demeaning their humanity, and accusing them of being sexual predators.”

Mayo Clinic is one of Rochester Pride’s Platinum sponsors.

Winters says Rochester Pride was angry over the situation and expects Mayo Clinic to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. This, Winters says, should be done by “publicly calling out and condemning bigotry, especially when it happens within their own institution.”

In response to Rochester Pride, John Poe, the Chair of the Education Administration for Mayo Clinic sent out this statement to all LGBTI+ MERG members:

“Earlier this year Mary O’Connor, M.D., a former Mayo Clinic employee, was an invited speaker at the Advancing Academic Career Excellence for Women 2024 course on the Florida campus. Since that time, we have learned of Dr. O’Connor’s social media activity which is inconsistent with Mayo Clinic values and does not represent the views of the organization. Had we known, we would have reconsidered the invitation. We realize this has caused hurt at a time when the transgender community is facing ongoing discrimination and attacks.”

“We appreciate that it was brought to our attention. We will continue to learn, improve, and grow in our commitment to the health and well-being of transgender and LGTBI+ staff, patients and community members. Thank you for demonstrating Mayo Clinic values and creating a culture of equity and inclusion. Thank you for your attention on this matter.”

Upon receiving the statement from Mayo Clinic, Winters says they are grateful the issue was addressed but believe the statement “downplays the seriousness of Dr. O’Connor’s actions and there is still much work for Mayo Clinic to do in the fight against bigotry targeting transgender people.” Winters also says that Rochester Pride appreciates mayo’s willingness to advocate for the community.

ABC 6 News reached out to Mayo Clinic for further comment on the issue but was told to refer to its statement to Rochester Pride.

ABC 6 News has also reached out to Dr. O’Connor but have not heard back at the time of writing this article.