Meet the trans psych nurse practitioner providing the care in a conservative Ohio county that he never had

“If I had had access to a provider like me, things would have been different,” said Butler County’s Daniel Hardy

Daniel Hardy wishes he could have had role models and mental health support when he was growing up in conservative Butler County, in the southwestern corner of Ohio. 

Looking back, he said his childhood would have been vastly improved if he had had someone to talk to like, well, Daniel Hardy. 

“I’m autistic, ADHD, physically disabled and trans,” he said. “If I had had access to a provider like me, things would have been different.”

Daniel Hardy

Now a psychiatric nurse practitioner, Hardy is providing just the type of critical care he didn’t receive—and doing so in an area of Ohio where there are so few out LGBTQ+ healthcare providers. 

To learn more about his journey, The Buckeye Flame sat down with Hardy to talk about why his line of work is crucial, especially these days. 

Buckeye Flame: What does it mean to do this type of work in this geographic county?

Daniel Hardy: I was born here at the hospital two blocks from my house. I grew up here, and as an adult I moved back here and finally settled down and bought a house. That was when I first became aware of how deeply conservative this area was. 

That was 2017, the year that we had a lot of overdoses. A Butler County representative made national news for saying something along the lines of “stop responding and sending squads out to overdose cases.” 

I am a pain-management-certified nurse because I have chronic pain and I got the extra certification to be able to do the best for my patients. Hearing that someone just up the street said that we should let people overdose, it hurt my heart. That’s when I started paying really close attention. 

Shortly after that, the Butler County sheriff refused to allow his squad members to carry Narcan, something he still stands by. His rationale was that using Narcan on people to revive them makes them dangerous. That can be true, but I’m a nurse and I’ve used Narcan many times. The patients can be violent, but it also saves lives … It’s unconscionable to just let someone die. 

Recently, on his official policy page, the sheriff posted something about [U.S. Assistant Health Secretary] Rachel Levine, saying, “What a guy,” sarcastically. This area, we’ll see bumper stickers that say, “I support Sheriff so and so.” 

So when you ask me what it’s like to work in this area, those are the kinds of things that I think about. When I first started college, there were no providers in this area that openly advertised transition HRT. Now Planned Parenthood down the street offers it. 

I say all of this not to be down on this part of the country or down on my county, because I think about how much it has improved since I was younger. The last two years, we’ve had two Prides. In my senior year of high school, I was laughed out of the office when I asked if we could start a GSA because of the bullying I was experiencing. 

When I first came out and transitioned, I did not feel safe. I had been attacked in this area. Then after a couple of years of living unobtrusively as just some guy, I realized I was betraying the people that I was out to help. If it weren’t for people who were publicly out and trans, I would have never come to know myself. 

I felt like it was my moral duty to be that person for other people. So in my public existence as queer, trans, physically disabled, multiply neurodivergent and an adult who is thriving with these conditions the best way I know how, I can serve as that coach for other individuals who need help. My advanced education allows me to provide that expert level care through informed lips. 

How have you been able to grow from your experience to now help those around you?

The experiences that I’ve had include multiple denials of insurance for care that should be very straightforward, things that are considered basic and essential. For example, bone-density scans that are recommended were denied because I had the wrong gender marker on my profile. I was doing my own legwork when there weren’t published guides online and having difficulty with my providers when they didn’t have comfort with multiple specialties.

The fact that I am a patient and a nurse helps me speak both languages. I’ve done presentations to the general public and trans public about how to explain to your providers exactly what it is that you need. 

When a patient comes to me explaining how they were fighting and fighting [with their provider] but couldn’t seem to get anywhere, I am able to [suggest] other options that have been successful for patients in the past. I have written numerous letters for support at school and at the college level for accommodations. 

These actions mostly reflect things that I wish I would have been able to access. The patients come back and tell me that they’ve never had such a great response, and it’s because I’m not working from a solely theoretical framework. 

What would it have meant to you to have someone like you when you were growing up?

I was raised Catholic in the 1980s-1990s. There were no role models and we didn’t really have language for the things that I was feeling. Maybe on the coasts in small pockets there were—I know that people transitioned there, and some people transitioned here … We had no words for neurodivergence. The word that explained me was “quirky,” and we were okay with quirky.

If I had had access to a provider like me, things would have been different. I would have had access to the supports I needed in college. That would have very likely helped me to avoid being hospitalized twice in undergraduate. It also could have made college a lot less difficult for me.

When I look back on my college years, I didn’t have a lot of fun because of how hard it was for me. If I had been diagnosed appropriately, that would have opened me up to a lot more community at that age. 🔥

Ignite Action:

  • Learn more about Daniel Hardy by visiting his website.

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