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  • Writer's pictureHanna Guidry

Dr. Cody Pyke: Following many ambitions with a singular goal


In pursuing her many career ambitions and life achievements, Dr. Cody Pyke maintains a singular focus: impacting lives through service. Cody is a medical doctor and practicing attorney who was appointed in July 2023 to the Board of Trustees for the Harris Health System, also known as the Harris County Hospital District. Harris Health is an integrated, public safety-net health system of hospitals, community centers, and clinics that provides care to those most in need in Harris County. As the first transgender woman to be on this board, she is ecstatic to have a seat at the table as a voice for the LGBTQ+ community and work with the rest of the board to optimize healthcare resources in Harris County.

 

Cody grew up in San Antonio and began her career as a musician and choral director, inspired in part by her high school choir teacher. This teacher instilled important values within her: that everyone is called to serve others and that people should use their gifts and talents to do as much good as possible. Following these tenets, she pursued her bachelor’s degree in music.

 

In December 2012, six months before graduating with her music degree, a personal tragedy occurred that would forever alter Cody’s career path. Cody’s mother and great-grandmother were both hospitalized within just a few days of each other at different hospitals. One family member was insured, while the other was uninsured and staying at a public hospital. As she traveled back and forth between facilities to visit each of them, she quickly noticed differences in the care each person was receiving. Cody saw that each hospital and system had its own shortcomings, and in observing these inequities she saw a need for someone to shake things up in the healthcare industry and make the system equitable for everyone. Knowing that she had the power to make a difference, she recognized this as her calling. Cody completed her bachelor’s degree in music in May 2013. To prepare for medical school, she immediately began attending post-baccalaureate classes in sciences while still maintaining a career as a middle school choir director and professional musician.

 

While in medical school, Cody discovered a love for medical ethics and obtained a concurrent master’s degree in bioethics. She continued to dedicate her time and energy to improving lives and promoting equity, but as she worked with patients and pursued change in the industry, she began to realize that doctors are at a disadvantage in the world of healthcare advocacy. She saw that physicians don’t have the power that they used to; in the current healthcare landscape, insurance companies and policymakers have the power to make decisions that impact the patient just as much as a doctor does, if not more so. It was difficult for her to advocate for her patients when the world of policy was still so confusing, and after working with an advocacy organization in Houston called Doctors for Change, she “caught the policy bug” and realized that her next step should be law school if she was to enact the changes she wished to see in the industry.

 

While working through law school, Cody also obtained her Master of Laws in health law in order to gain more expertise in her chosen field. After finishing both of her law degrees, she completed a fellowship as a health policy analyst in the Texas Senate before resuming her final year of medical school. Having found her niche at the intersection of law and medicine, Cody decided to forego the traditional residency track after medical school and instead practice law full time. She completed her medical doctorate in May 2022 and has been practicing as an attorney full time since June 2022.

 

Cody has been told that she has “the brain of a lawyer and the heart of a doctor”– traits that have enabled her to experience greater levels of success and emotional understanding in her chosen fields. Ultimately, though her career has meandered across many disciplines, she has always remained centered on her goal of helping others through service. Her work in advocating for patients in the policy world will be continued as she serves on the Harris Health board. Harris Health board members are unpaid public servants who are appointed by Harris County Commissioners’ Court for terms of two years, with the possibility of reappointment at the conclusion of a given term.  Since joining the board in July 2023, Cody continues to trailblaze and was unanimously voted by her peers on the board to serve as its Vice Chair in December 2023.

 

Cody is bisexual and came out as transgender and nonbinary in 2019, which she recognizes as one of the greatest barriers she has faced in her career journey. Publicly coming out meant losing privileges and experiencing new difficulties in the professional world that she had not experienced in the years before being openly transgender. Despite these setbacks, Cody loves being her authentic self and says that living in accordance with her true identity has improved every single aspect of her life and well-being.

 

For other trans and nonbinary people looking to make their mark on the world, Cody offers three pieces of advice. First, take care of yourself. She stresses the importance of normalcy and community for LGBTQ+ folks as a way to protect each other from the onslaught of hate the community is experiencing in the current moment. Second, she advises transgender professionals to call out misgendering and transphobia with kindness. Cody recognizes the justified anger that transgender people feel as victims of oppression, but also states that people have long memories – in the workplace, there is a chance that you could be the only transgender person someone knows, so it’s important to be kind while still standing up to harassment. Lastly, she stresses the importance of resilience. She emphasizes that transgender folks must have faith and trust in the tenacity of themselves and their community: “We’re not going to be bullied into nonexistence.”

 

Though discrimination is on the rise, she reminds the transgender community in Texas that things will continue improving as they have for generations. In the face of opposition, Cody continues to pursue her goal of being a voice in the healthcare industry and uses her many talents to improve the lives of people in Texas and beyond.

 

Note: Dr. Pyke, who is a nonbinary transgender woman, uses both she/her and they/them pronouns. For consistency, she/her pronouns are used in this feature.



 

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