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Following footsteps to blaze new trails

Phi Beta Kappa member Colt Meier earns a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at UH

Stacey Colton Meier

Colt Meier admires his parents so much that he’s chosen to follow in both of their footsteps.

The son of a father who is a clinical psychologist, Dr. Meier graduates this spring from the University of Houston with a doctorate in clinical psychology.

One terminal doctorate degree, however, is not enough for him.

He’s taking the prerequisite courses for medical school so that he can complete a medical degree, as his mother, an obstetrician and gynecologist, did.

 “In addition to being a psychologist, I would like to be a family medicine physician and provide medical care to the transgender community,” said Dr. Meier.

His professional ambitions underscore his own life journey and commitment to helping others successfully follow his path. Dr. Meier is the first out transgender individual to graduate with a Ph.D. from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

“In addition to psychological support, the transgender population needs medical care just like anyone else,” said Dr. Meier. “But they want to see a physician who won’t judge them. I believe I can help more people with both of these degrees.”

A Gulf Coast native, Dr. Meier earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rice University in 2006. He graduated with a 4.0 grade point average and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest academic honor society in the United States, and Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology.

He was admitted to several graduate schools and chose the University of Houston over other prestigious opportunities Texas A&M and Tulane universities.

“I’m originally from Beaumont, but after attending Rice, I realized I really enjoyed Houston and wanted to stay in the city,” said Dr. Meier. “With the Texas Medical Center here, there are so many potential training opportunities in Houston.”

Another major factor in his decision to pursue his doctorate at UH’s highly-regarded Clinical Psychology Program was his first meeting with Julia Babcock, associate professor of psychology and co-director of the Center for Couples Therapy.

“When I asked her how my being a transgender student would be handled within the department Dr. Babcock answered, without hesitation, that she was committed to diversity and valued all people,” recalls Dr. Meier.
For his doctoral dissertation, Dr. Meier conducted a longitudinal study on the psychological effects of exogenous testosterone on female-to-male transsexuals.

“Colt designed an ambitious dissertation, following a difficult-to-recruit population over time in a longitudinal study of the effects of testosterone on FTMs,” said Dr. Babcock. “With most graduate students, I would steer them away from having their graduation depend upon completion of a longitudinal study but in Colt's case, I decided just to get out of his way.

“He was passionate about the topic, designed a state-of-the-art study, and has become a leader in the field.”

Under Dr. Babcock’s guidance, Dr. Meier completed his coursework, and is nearly finished with his American Psychological Association accredited pre-doctoral internship at Texas Tech University. He will begin a post-doctoral fellowship this summer at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Administration Medical Center, where he will work with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients.

 “Eventually I would like to open my own practice or be part of a larger organization that promotes transgender wellness in the southern United States,” said Dr. Meier. “I want to continue to be part of the movement.”

- By Monica Byars