What stands out at Creating Change 2011? More Health.


 

Emilia Dunham, Network Program Associate

Emilia Dunham

Program Associate, reporting on Creating Change 2011

We all know at this point that it’s important to continue the energy and discussions from conferences to really create progress on important LGBT issues. For that reason, I wanted to point out a theme that supports the great work of the Network. In CC 2011, there was greater of emphasis on health at Creating Change this year than in other years. As evidenced by the many health workshops (for instance) reported by former Program Associate Sasha Kaufmann discussing legislation to protect PLWHIV and Megan Lee reporting on a fantastic program called Project H-E-A-L-T-H to our CC Action Alert on national LGBT data collection to the mention of LGBT benefit from healthcare reform in the State of the Movement address.

Significant Health Theme

You may recall from memory/comparison of the last two conferences, or you can check out our blog entries from past Creating Changes, that 2011 Creating Change had a much larger focus on LGBTQ health than CC 2010. Staff and guest bloggers highlight this theme in their blogs. For instance guest blogging scholar Dean Andersen’s  posts discuss needs for individual and national LGBT health promotion.

Given that our Network’s focus is on health and tobacco, we were very pleased that health was a main focus of CC 2011. That fact could not be any more apparent than from the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce’s  Executive Director, Rea Carey’s “State of the Movement” speech when she said:

“Healthcare reform will change the lives of more LGBT people than any single piece of legislation we’ve been working on all year.”

How health, policy and research intersect and why that matters

Not only does Rea’s quote emphasize that the most meaningful advancement for LGBT people has been health legislation (which may be surprising and enlightening for many folks to hear), but it speaks to how issues of public policy, LGBT advocacy and health intertwine. The fact that these issues are so connected is common sense in achieving our needs, but also shows the Network is really on the forefront for tackling LGBT inequality as we focus on LGBT data collection/inclusion and health through a social justice lens. For more on what’s being done on the national level around these issues Scout’s blog entry on the workshop provides a wonderful synthesized list from Obama’s appointees speaking directly to these issues. Rea Carey, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

To echo the theme of healthcare, at this plenary session, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force/National Center for Transgender Equality report Injustice at Every Turn was distributed to all. As you may know, that was the largest national trans study which I discussed in a previous post which discussed health components at greater length due to our support (i.e. tobacco and alcohol use).

What About Tobacco?

Unfortunately, the issue of LGBT tobacco control was quiet this year apart from our own advocacy. As mentioned, in NCTE’s Mara Keisling’s presention of their joint survey, the Network was praised for our support in including tobacco within the questionnaire. In addition, I am chairing a committee with the National Youth Advocacy Coalition called Youth Kicks, which I discussed in my first CC post as a committee to address LGBT tobacco harm reduction through national media campaign.

Despite quietness on tobacco, it’s important to see how LGBT health overlaps with issues such as tobacco, for instance in terms of data. There was workshop after workshop after workshop about the need to include LGBT people in national data collection at several levels. The reason for this? We all know LGBT people experience disparities, but it’s harder to prove without numbers which is why our activity at Creating Change was to call on the CDC to include LGBT people in national surveys since we are often tabled on general health disparity conversations and have harder case in proving needs for funding without numbers.

Fortunately, it’s becoming much easier to discuss LGBT tobacco issues than ever before with the interconnectedness of policy, health, research and advocacy, so this conference revealed how the time is right to do some great work on these issues.

Published by Emilia Dunham, MPP, MBA

Emilia Dunham is currently a Project Manager at MassHealth/Department of Public Health, and formerly the Project Manager of the Life Skills project at The Fenway Institute, an HIV intervention study for young transgender women. Emilia worked at Fenway for 7 years, first as a Quality Control and Regulatory Assistant mainly involved with biomedical HIV prevention trials, before serving as the Program Associate for The Network for LGBT Health Equity, a network instrumental in many national LGBT health policy improvements. She is also involved with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, serving as a Steering Committee member and the Policy Committee Co-Chair, an organization largely responsible for the recent passage of the Trans Rights Bill. Additionally she serves as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Co-Chair of the Recommendations Committee. Emilia received a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. There she served as President of the LGBTQ student group where she planned programs such as Pride Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and AIDS Week. In addition, she advocated for LGBTQ inclusive policies and programming on campus such as a Gender Neutral Housing program, an LGBTQ Center and the expansion of Women’s Studies to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Emilia recently earned a Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration in health policy and management from the Brandeis Heller School School for Social Policy and Management.

4 thoughts on “What stands out at Creating Change 2011? More Health.

  1. Great blog post Emilia. I also noticed less on HIV/AIDS, which was a way the LGBT movement had such motivation mixing activism and access to health care. How can we continue to make the connections the AIDS Activist movement made, between homophobia/transphobia, racism, poverty, etc. and its relationship to health and wellness, as individuals and communities? I noticed a little more on mental health/wellness, in part because of the Practice Spirit, Do Justice concurring spirituality conference. I offered a self-reflection/empowerment workshop there and it was very well-received and participants really appreciated having it. One step is connecting emotional wellbeing to our health, another is connecting disparities as an outrage for action.

    1. Thank you Samuel! And sorry for extreme delay. You raise a really good question/comments on how we make the connections between the AIDS Activist movement and other areas. Holistic health focusing both on physical, emotional and spiritual health is really important and did seem to be highlighted this year. I really wish I made it to your workshop and I’m glad it went so well!

      I did see your workshop announcement on your website: http://tgtrain.org/upcoming.html. I also see that you’ll be in SF for the Trans Health conference next month so I will see you there! I think I saw you in the elevator in Minneapolis but I wasn’t sure if it was you, so it will be nice to meet you in person!

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