Embracing Medicine—and One’s True Self

Delia Sosa, MBS21, an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, finds a “second family” at TUSM
Delia Sosa, MBS'21
Delia Sosa, MBS21, an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, finds a “second family” at TUSM.

Among the many important experiences Delia Sosa had during their time at Tufts School of Medicine, figuring out who they truly are tops the list.

Sosa, who graduated with a master’s in biomedical sciences in February, said that in addition to nourishing a passion for medicine, they also came to understand their gender identity as trans nonbinary, which is why Sosa uses “they/them/theirs” pronouns.

While in a class during their first semester at Tufts, Sosa reached an inflection point in their gender-identity path. A discussion emerged about “the distinction between gender and sex,” Sosa said, which gave Sosa an opening and an opportunity. “It was the first time I felt confident enough to share that part of myself with my peers and professors.”

Figuring out their gender identity during graduate school “added another layer of difficulty to the program, on top of how challenging the program was,” Sosa explained. They pointed to James Kubilus, research assistant professor of immunology and associate program director of the Master of Biomedical Sciences (MBS) program at TUSM, as being an important ally to them—and to the queer and trans communities as a whole.

“The whole time Dr. Kubilus was making sure I had enough support to do well in my classes and to be able to figure out who I am in a safe environment,” they said. “As someone who is not cisgender in a predominantly cisgender space, it was really important to have people like Dr. Kubilus who are willing to stand up for the trans and nonbinary population. That meant the world to me.”

As a result of their experiences, Sosa advises others not to be afraid to be who they are— and to speak up for themselves and others. “I know it’s difficult, and I know that you may be a little intimidated when people challenge you. But it’s OK to speak your mind and to speak it with empathy and kindness and to be true to yourself in everything that you do,” they said.

Sosa also said that they emerged from graduate school stronger for the experience of earning a degree in the middle of a pandemic. “I’ve learned a lot about my own strengths and resilience. That’s something I’m pretty grateful for, and I don’t know if I would have known that were it not for the challenges of COVID,” Sosa said.

In 2020, Sosa was selected by classmates for the Dr. Alvar Gustafson Award, which recognizes one MBS student each year for social responsibility, civic engagement, and dedicated service to community. Sosa has been a strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, including educating faculty and students about how to treat all people equally regardless of gender or sexuality. They also represented the MBS program in the Multicultural Fellows Council at TUSM.

Sosa, who plans to apply to medical schools this year, wants to train to be either an emergency room doctor or an anesthesiologist. They now work at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard as a clinical data specialist at the group Count Me In, which focuses on patient-partnered research. Sosa also does some work with Count Me In’s community engagement team and Broad at large around LGBTQ+ advocacy and inclusion.

Sosa remains committed to fighting the health care inequities trans and nonbinary people face. “I want to make my focus on gender-affirming care and making sure that both my practice and any system I work in more broadly afford trans and nonbinary people access to care,” they said.

Sosa said they will always carry with them the community of supportive classmates and MBS program staff they discovered at Tufts.

“I feel like I have found a second family at Tufts between my classmates—who are constantly cheering each other on as they apply to medical school—and my professors—who are always so excited for us,” said Sosa.