Chris Lewis grew up in Sour Lake, located in southeast Texas, where his first job was working as a rice farmer for the USDA during high school. His mother works as a nurse supervisor and his father as a pipe-fitter. His younger brother works as a nuclear engineer for the US Navy on USS Kentucky and lives in Washington with his wife and two children, 5 year-old Rowan and 3 year old Riley. Chris now calls St. Louis home after moving here in 2011. He is an avid outdoors enthusiast and loves to hike, camp and explore all St. Louis has to offer.
Chris obtained his B.S. in microbiology at Texas A&M University and no matter what institution he is at, he will always be an Aggie. He earned his M.D. at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. Went on to begin a residency in pediatrics at SUNY Stony Brook and completed his residency at Washington University. Since the end of medical school, he knew his career was heading towards pediatric endocrinology. His path became clear during his child advocacy rotation when he had the opportunity to attend a local support group for parents of transgender youth. At this meeting, he witnessed the significant health disparities transgender adolescents and adults face, such as, homelessness and suicidality, discrimination within the healthcare setting and scarcity of providers competent in transgender healthcare.
As a part of the LGBTQIA community himself, it was quite disheartening to hear the struggles these parents had to go through just to have their children receive medical attention. Growing up in rural Texas, LGBTQIA healthcare was practically non-existent and even in medical school and residency it was provided little attention. From this point on, he realized he had to become not only a competent provider for his community but also work to improve access to high-quality care, increase its exposure within medical education and contribute to research and advancement in transgender health.
During his fellowship, with the guidance and support of the division of pediatric endocrinology, he was able to cultivate his passion for transgender health and lay the groundwork for the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. He has given lectures not only at Wash U but other academic institutions and national conferences to promote LGBTQIA health equality. His work was recently recognized by the Human Rights Campaign, the largest civil rights organization in the US fight for LGBTQIA equality, after being voted as the 2017 Human Rights Campaign Equality Award recipient.
The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital opened on August 1, 2017 and has already seen tremendous growth with patients coming from over 300+ miles away, as far as central Arkansas. This highlights the overwhelming need for the type of affirming and supportive care the clinic aims to provide. The goal is to be a center of excellence that provides high-quality, multi-disciplinary, full-spectrum care for every aspect of transgender health from childhood to throughout their adult lives. Chris hopes to continue to raise local and national awareness, contribute to the body of literature for transgender health research and create much needed improvements in medical education as it pertains to all of LGBTQIA related healthcare.