Nanette Gartrell, MD, is an American psychiatrist, researcher, lesbian activist and writer. Gartrell is the author of over 70 research reports on topics ranging from medical student depression to lesbian mothers and their children to sexual exploitation of patients by healthcare professionals. Her ground-breaking investigation into physician misconduct led to a clean-up of professional ethics codes and the criminalization of boundary violations. For this work, she was featured in a PBS "Frontline" documentary My Doctor, My Lover.
She is the author of My Answer Is NO. . . . If That's Okay with You: How Women Can Say NO with Confidence.
Education & Affiliations
Gartrell attended Stanford University (class of 1971) and the University of California, trained at Harvard, and is a Williams Institute Visiting Distinguished Scholar at the UCLA School of Law (2009–2013). She served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School from 1976 to 1987, and was on the faculty at the University of California, San Francisco, from 1988 to 2011 as an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry. Gartrell has a private psychiatry practice, and for 13 years volunteered her psychiatric services to chronically mentally ill homeless people. An experience in one of these shelters became the basis for her piece in the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, "A Tenderloin Tail."
Gartrell is the Principal Researcher for the US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS). The NLLFS follows lesbian mothers and their children who were conceived by donor insemination during the 1980s. The study, which was initiated by Gartrell in 1986, examines the social, psychological, and emotional development of the children as well as the dynamics of planned lesbian families. This is the longest-running and largest prospective investigation of lesbian mothers and their children in the United States.
In June 2010, the NLLFS study The USA National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of the 17-Year-Old Adolescents was published in Pediatrics. The study's results showed that the 17-year-olds of lesbian mothers were rated significantly higher in social, school/academic, and total competence and significantly lower in social problems, rule-breaking, aggressive, and externalizing problem behavior than their age-matched counterparts. This publication prompted international media attention including articles in The Los Angeles Times, The Telegraph (UK), Time, and mention on The Colbert Report. Discover Magazine then named this story as one of the top 100 stories of 2010—#88: Same-Sex Parents Do No Harm.
In 2012, UCLA Today published an article "Researcher sorts out fact from fallacy in three-decade study of lesbian families"  highlighting Gartrell's 30+ years of work on the NLLFS study.
Gartrell N, Bos H, Peyser H, et al. (2012) Adolescents with Lesbian Mothers Describe Their Own Lives. Journal of Homosexuality, 59:9, 1211-1229.
Bos H, Goldberg N, van Gelderen L, Gartrell N. (2012) Male Role Models, Gender Role Traits, and Psychological Adjustment. Gender & Society. DOI: 10.1177/0891243212445465.
van Gelderen, L, Bos H, Gartrell N, et al. (2012) Quality of Life of Adolescents Raised from Birth by Lesbian Mothers. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. 33(1):1-7.
Gartrell N, Bos H, Goldberg N. (2011) New Trends in Same-Sex Sexual Contact for American Adolescents? Archives of Sexual Behavior. DOI 10.1007/s10508-011-9883-5.
Gartrell N, Bos H, Peyser, H, et al. (2011) Family Characteristics, Custody Arrangements, and Adolescent Psychological Well-being after Lesbian Mothers Break Up. Family Relations. 60:572-585. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2011.00667.x.
Goldberg NG, Bos HMW, Gartrell NK. (2011) Substance use by adolescents of the USA national longitudinal lesbian family study. Journal of Health Psychology. doi:10.1177/1359105311403522.
Bos H.M.W, Gartrell N.K (2010) Adolescents of the US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: the impact of having a known or an unknown donor on the stability of psychological adjustment. Human Reproduction. doi:10.1093/humrep/deq359.
Gartrell N, Bos H, Goldberg N. (2010) Adolescents of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Sexual Orientation, Sexual Behavior, and Sexual Risk Exposure. Archives of Sexual Behavior. doi:10.1007/s10508-010-9692-210.1007/s.
Bos H, Gartrell N. (2010) Adolescents of the USA National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Can Family Characteristics Counteract the Negative Effects of Stigmatization? Family Process. 49:559–572.
Gartrell N, Bos H. (2010) US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of 17-Year-Old Adolescents. Pediatrics. 126(1):1-9.
Van Gelderen L, Gartrell N, Bos H, et al. (2009) Stigmatization and resilience in adolescent children of lesbian mothers. Journal of GLBT Family Studies. 5(3):268-279.
Bos HMW, Gartrell NK, Peyser H, et al. (2008) The USA national longitudinal lesbian family study: Homophobia, psychological adjustment, and protective factors. Journal of Lesbian Studies. 12(4):455-471.
Bos HMW, Gartrell N, Van Balen F, Peyser H, et al. (2008) Children in planned lesbian families: A cross-cultural comparison between the USA and the Netherlands. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 78(2):211-219.
Gartrell N, Rodas C, Deck A, et al. (2006) The USA national lesbian family study: 5. Interviews with mothers of ten-year-olds. Feminism & Psychology. 16(2):175-192.
Gartrell N, Deck A, Rodas C, et al. (2005) The national lesbian family study: 4. Interviews with the 10-year-old children. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 75:518-524.
Gartrell N, Banks A, Reed N, Hamilton J, et al. (2000) The national lesbian family study: 3. Interviews with mothers of five-year-olds. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 70:542-548.
Gartrell N, Banks A, Hamilton J, et al. (1999) The national lesbian family study: 2. Interviews with mothers of toddlers. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 69:362-369.
Gartrell N, Hamilton J, Banks A, et al. (1996) The national lesbian family study: 1. Interviews with prospective mothers. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 66:272-281.
In 2008, Gartrell wrote My Answer Is No…If That’s Okay with You ISBN 1-4165-4695-2, a book written to help women learn to say "no" with confidence. The book, published by Simon & Schuster, featured interviews with successful and prominent women, including former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, international AIDS activist Mary Fisher, best-selling author Danielle Steel, President of the Center for the Advancement of Women Faye Wattleton, Wall Street Journal contributing editor Peggy Noonan, breast cancer surgeon Dr. Susan Love, former First Lady Barbara Bush, and others.
Awards & Honors
(2008) One of the Ten Most Powerful Lesbian Doctors, Curve magazine.
(2008) American Psychological Association (Division 44) Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award.
Gartrell is married to Dee Mosbacher MD, Ph.D., a prominent documentary filmmaker whose film Straight From the Heart was nominated for an Academy Award in 1994. The two live together in San Francisco, CA.
- Nanette Gartrell, Spring 2010 Williams Institute Visiting Scholar
- My Answer Is NO. . . . If That's Okay with You Simon & Schuster, official book page
- Stanford Alumni Blog Interview with Dr. Gartrell
- Nanette Gartrell's Biography on the NLLFS website
- San Francisco Chronicle Magazine: A Tenderloin Tail
- The US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study website
- Pediatrics US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of 17-Year-Old Adolescents
- The Los Angeles Times Parenting should be a nonissue in gay marriage debate
- Telegraph UK Children raised by lesbians have fewer behavioural problems
- 'Time' Children of Lesbians May Do Better Than Their Peers
- The Cobert Report, Testoster-Ruin - Hanna Rosin
- Discover Magazine Top 100 Stories of 2010: #88 Same-Sex Parents Do No Harm
- "Researcher sorts out fact from fallacy in three-decade study of lesbian families"
- Good Morning America video with Dr. Gartrell
- Radio and TV appearances by Dr. Nanette Gartrell for her book My Answer Is No
- Bringing Ethics Alive Routledge, official book page
- Everyday Mutinies Routledge, official book page
- Curve Magazine: Ten Most Powerful Lesbian Doctors
- American Psychological Association Division 44, Distinguished Scientific Contribution, Awards and Honors
- Dee Mosbacher, Nanette Gartrell in The New York Times, Fashion and Style, January 16, 2005