Nanette Gartrell

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Nanette Gartrell 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 sexual minority parent families to sexual exploitation of patients by healthcare professionals. Her 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.[1]

Gartrell is also the author of My Answer Is NO. . . . If That's Okay with You: How Women Can Say NO with Confidence.[2] The Nanette K. Gartrell papers, a collection of Gartrell's personal, professional, and political life, are archived in the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.[3]

Education and affiliations[edit]

Gartrell attended Stanford University (class of 1971)[4] and the University of California, trained at Harvard, and has been a Williams Institute Visiting Distinguished Scholar at the UCLA School of Law since 2009.[5] She has had a guest appointment at the University of Amsterdam since 2009. 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. Gartrell has a private psychiatry practice, and for 13 years volunteered her psychiatric services to chronically mentally ill homeless people.[6] An experience in one of these shelters became the basis for her piece in the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, "A Tenderloin Tail."[7]


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.[8]

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.[9] 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),[10] Time,[11] and mention on The Colbert Report.[12] Discover Magazine then named this story as one of the top 100 stories of 2010—#88: Same-Sex Parents Do No Harm.[13]

In 2012, UCLA Today published an article "Researcher sorts out fact from fallacy in three-decade study of lesbian families"[14] highlighting Gartrell's 30+ years of work on the NLLFS study.


Selected scholarly articles (co-authored)[edit]


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.[2]

As part of the promotion for the book, Gartrell appeared on Good Morning America,[15] and was interviewed for numerous radio and TV programs around the country.[16]

Gartrell is also the editor of Bringing Ethics Alive: Feminist Ethics in Psychotherapy Practice;[17] and the co-editor of Everyday Mutinies.[18]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • (2008) One of the Ten Most Powerful Lesbian Doctors, Curve magazine.[19]
  • (2008) American Psychological Association (Division 44) Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award.[20]
  • (2010) Pediatrics publication by Drs. Gartrell and Bos cited as one of top 100 science stories of the year by Discover magazine.[21]
  • (2013) Association of Women Psychiatrists Presidential Commendation Award, American Psychiatric Association.[22]
  • (2014) Drs. Gartrell and Mosbacher were the co-recipients of the Mathew O. Tobriner Public Service award from the Legal Aid Society, Employment Law Center.[23]
  • (2014) Gay Lesbian Medical Association Achievement Award.[24]
  • (2017) United Kingdom LGBT History Posters.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Gartrell is married to Dee Mosbacher MD, Ph.D.,[26] a documentary filmmaker whose film Straight From the Heart was nominated for an Academy Award in 1994. The two live together in San Francisco, CA.


External links[edit]