Is your mom a lesbian? I don't know, but she speaks spanish!

Margie Alvarez

Guest blogger, reporting on PR LGBT Health Summit

The Puerto Rico LGBTT Health Summit began with Francisco Dueñas, from Lambda Legal, talking about healthcare not being caring; Sheila Rodriguez who spoke about the Trans Community in PR; and Ines Parks on tobacco control and prevention. The first concurrent session consisted of health for lesbian and bisexual women where they demonstrated various topics covering women’s health.

Olga Orraca begins the session by arguing that being a lesbian or bisexual is not a health risk. It is important to be out of the closet with health professionals as being in the closet affects our health, women living in “the closet” have more tendencies to fall into eating disorder or the abuse of controlled substances. The best way to know whether a doctor is “LGBTT friendly” is to ask acquaintances, friends, family and doctors themselves.

Jackeline Cruz educates on fears and problems that we, lesbian and bisexual women, face in terms of vaginal health. There is a lack of vaginal health information because it is not spoken because of the many vulgar connotations of terms in vaginal health. It is important to us as women to monitor the vulva / vagina. This will help us to have a greater acceptance of ourselves and to prevent situations being able to tell our doctors about any noticeable changes.

Then Ivette Diaz, brought the issue of lesbian mothers and parenting challenges. There are several challenges according to the constitution of the family, either because one of the partners comes from a heterosexual relationship with a child or is a lesbian mother living with children but does not live under the same roof with her partner, a mother who decided to have insemination, or self-insemination, or adoption. The biggest challenges are to work with former partners (if coming from a heterosexual relationship), if insemination or adoption to legally enroll as a single mother, because the state law does not recognize adoption in same-sex couples. One of the participants asked her what are the issues kids with two moms have to deal at school, to this Díaz answers that her kid was asked at a school in Texas, “is your mom a lesbian?” and he answered Ï don’t know, but she speaks spanish.”

Mabel Lopez ends the session with the issue of domestic violence in lesbian couples. There is no inclusion in the support services or the laws of protection for LGBTT victims, the government makes invisible LGBTT citizens. In a study, made to 7 women, she learned their relationship with their partners as victims of domestic violence. In the conclusions of the study, they found most important and more pertinent that it is necessary to include relationships of all kinds in the law 54, Puerto Rico’s Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention Law.

Definitely these issues should be expanded as time is limited and cannot cover all the questions women have about our health. A question that arose among the participants is whether it is right that a gynecologist tell a patient, identified as lesbian; she should not do annually the PAP because she doesn’t have sexual relationship with men. Professionals like these are what remain confused and disoriented to many women who for one reason or another, are not fully trust your doctor to talk openly about their sexuality.

From left to right: Beatriz Febus (moderator); Jackeline Cruz; Ivette Díaz; Olga Orraca and Mabel Lopez

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