LGBT Health Education Blog
[This post was originally published on the Fenway Health Fenway Focus blog, here. Fenway Health is one of the National LGBT Health Education Center's parent organizations.]
Looking at other Women’s Health Week resources, I found the same general health advice: eat healthy, exercise, seek routine preventive care, avoid unhealthy behaviors, and foster good mental health. Yes, these are all vital to maintaining health, but hasn’t almost everyone heard this advice at least 100 times? And shouldn’t people of all genders aim to practice these healthy behaviors? Of all the extremely important women’s health issues, this is what we focus on during a week dedicated to women’s health?
Many lesbian, bisexual and transgender women feel uncomfortable talking about their sexual orientation or gender identity, preventing them from getting the care they deserve.
I was ready to give up on this post when I was inspired by some simple words from my mother. She was a single mom who returned to college when my sisters and I were in elementary school. Despite having three daughters to raise alone, she managed to excel in school and eventually complete a graduate degree.
My mom is a fighter, and she fought for her health and the health of her children. She disagreed with healthcare providers if she was unsatisfied with their diagnosis or treatment plan. We lived in poverty, went through periods of being uninsured, and had limited access to competent healthcare providers. Yet, my mom always advocated for the best possible care. And, believe me, we got it.
I spoke to my mom a few days ago and we discussed some health problems she has been experiencing. She said to me, “Christina, why don’t doctors listen to their patients? I know my body better than anyone.” As we talked about her plans for seeking further care she told me that, “it always helps to be assertive."
Check out the rest of the post at the Fenway Focus blog.
Look for our staff and faculty next week at the National Health Care for the Homeless Council’s National Conference in Kansas City. Further information, including how to register, is here. Providers and advocates from around the country will gather for the conferences many accredited workshops, professional networking, and inspiring plenary sessions.
Our program on Optimizing Care for LGBT People in Health Care for the Homeless Programs will be presented by Education Center Faculty Joanne Keatley, MSW, Ralph Vetters, MD, and Harvey Makadon, MD on Wednesday, May 16th. JoAnne Keatley is Director of the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Vetters is Medical Director of the Sidney Borum, Jr. Health Center, which is a program of Fenway Health, our parent organization. Hilary Goldhammer, MS, our Manager of Curriculum Development, will moderate the panel discussion.
Also check out our booth at the conference which will feature giveaways, including a drawing for a copy of The Fenway Guide to LGBT Health, along with a variety of LGBT health information. We would love to discuss how we can be helpful to your health centers.
We are excited to be included in this conference and look forward to additional collaborations with the NHCHC. Check out our calendar, here, for additional NHCHC collaborations in Tennessee and Seattle.
Check out Urbanite Baltimore's noteworthy profile of openly lesbian health care provider Tonia Poteat, PhD, who was recently appointed Senior Technical Advisor for Most At Risk Populations by the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. As a physician assistant at Chase Brexton Health Center (a LGBT-focused health center in Baltimore) Dr. Poteat cared for at-risk transgender patients at Poteat's coming out story was told in the 2007 documentary For The Bible Tells Me So, which profiled Christian families’ struggles to accept lesbian and gay children. Dr. Poteat also did a stint with the CDC and the World Health Organization monitoring and evaluating HIV treatment programs in sub-Saharan Africa. It is inspiring to read about a provider so dedicated to reaching the most vulnerable populations.
The Lesbian Health Fund (LHF), a program of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) is accepting proposals for research on lesbian health. The fund is especially interested in applications that address the diversity of sexual minority women's communities and studies of health promotion and health improvement in lesbian and bisexual women, as well as studies that are potentially publishable and which are conducted as first steps toward larger grant applications. Proposals are due on May 15th. Information on how to apply is here. Founded in 1993, LHF is only U.S. fund dedicated to the unique health needs of lesbians.
LGBT seniors who live in New York have reason to celebrate. New York City officials and elder organization SAGE (Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders) recently opened the city’s first LGBT senior center (press release), to be called the SAGE Center. The center is the city’s first to provide services that are culturally competent for LGBT elders. In addition to mental health programs, the center will also help clients with meals, fitness classes, health and wellness seminars, cultural offerings, and volunteer opportunities. SAGE’s Executive Director referred to the new center as “a dream for LGBT older people for many years.” Older adults are often presumed heterosexual, creating an environment that is not sensitive to the specific needs of LGBT people in aging services, healthcare and other institutional settings. Senior services and organizations that are culturally competent for LGBT communities help to reduce isolation, a key health barrier older LGBT people face.
The SAGE Center is located at 305 Seventh Avenue 6th Floor in New York, telephone 212-741-2247.