Hunter Gurevich – on speaking up

Hunter Gurevich
Chair of Transfolk WA
Curtin Medical Student

“Is there any LGBTI health on the medical syllabus?”
“No.”
“Do you think there should be?”
"Yes.”

I had this conversation with the Course Coordinator at Curtin Medical School, as a first-year. 

Here are two versions of how I became the person who speaks up.

One: I tried straight out of school to get into medicine, but I failed. I tried half-heartedly and failed a few times more from 2004 to 2009.

I convinced myself that I didn’t really want to get into medicine, that I was better off doing Arts, so I did a Creative Arts degree. Creative writing was my passion but I never really… got going. I wasn’t brave enough. I never published anything. 

I lived in London for two years, not doing very much. I lived in Thailand for two years, arguably doing even less. I had a nice time doing Muay Thai, teaching English, going to parties, and travelling around Southeast Asia. 

At 27 I got my s*** together and actually applied myself to getting into medicine. After a few years of working hard and getting back into study, I was admitted to Curtin in 2019, and started looking out for people other than myself. 

Two: I wasn’t ready for medicine straight out of school. I had no maturity and virtually no experience making decisions for myself. I had none of the psychological skills necessary to manage to huge amount of pressure on me in Year 11 and 12. The damage it did showed in my marks, and my subsequent struggles to find my voice.

My Arts degree permanently shaped the way I think. I received a range of new lenses through which to see the world. It grounded me in philosophy and culture. It taught me that the way you think about a problem can be as much of a problem as the thing itself. 

Living in London taught me self-reliance and how to be alone. It taught me how to live with others, how to make new friends, how to try new things. It taught me I could hurt people even when I didn’t mean to.

Living in Thailand taught me how little I understood. How much suffering was in the world. How lucky I am. That I needed to be working to the best of my ability to feel good about my life. No previous mistake prevents me from doing good now. There is only me, now. I peeled away all the layers of expectations that had papered over my identity and, after a decade of feeling worthless, I learned it wasn’t all my fault. I learned to smile.

These lessons equipped me to finally pursue medicine seriously, to become Chair of TransFolk of WA, and to fight for LGBTI health. 

Both versions are true. Only one displays how much time, work and practice was needed for me to feel confident speaking up. 

Here’s the most important lesson: There’s no one here but us. And if we don’t say something, it doesn’t get said. Start now.

Hunter Gurevich is a third year medical student at Curtin University. Born in Melbourne, he has lived in London, Bangkok, Hobart and now Perth. He is the incumbent Chair of TransFolk of WA, a peer support and advocacy organisation for trans and gender diverse people in Western Australia. In his moments of free time, Hunter enjoys Muay Thai, drawing, and emotionally supporting his greyhound.