Last week LGBT HealthLink had the honor and the pleasure to be represented at the 33rd Annual GLMA (Gay and Lesbian Medical Association) LGBT Health Conference in Portland, Oregon. Our esteemed volunteer team was chosen to present New National Cancer Guidelines: The Best and Promising Practices for the LGBT Community – Primary presenter: Shail Maingi, MD, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx NY and Co-Presenters: Asa Radix, MD, Callen Lorde Community Health Center, New York, NY, Dianne Bruessow, PA-C, DFAAPA, and Sean O’Mahony, MB, BCH, BAO Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL. We had over 100 attendees: About 65 attendees and another 56 via web.
In addition to the opportunity to enlighten and encourage about the unique challenges that LGBT individuals and families face across the cancer care continuum, shor salkas, a representative from HealthLink’s Steering Committee was at the conference, attending workshops, and networking with other professionals. Below is their personal review!
by shor salkas, MPH
Hello everyone! My name is shor and I am on the Steering Committee for LGBT HealthLink, and I am here at the GLMA (Gay and Lesbian Medical Association) Annual LGBT Health Conference in Portland, Oregon.
The first day of the conference was short and jam packed! There was a session entitled “National Cancer Care: Best and Promising Practices for the LGBT Community.” This session was facilitated by folks who have been leading the charge to get LGBT communities visible in the cancer care discourse by starting a national working group, doing an amazing meta-analysis of current research and practices, and working with LGBT communities to find out how to improve cancer care. LGBT HealthLink has been very involved in this process and will be publishing the results of this work in a report soon (keep your eyes on the website!).
This group of cancer care leaders was keen to point out that we need to be working on training and systems change across the cancer care continuum, and that there are some systems, like palliative and end of life care, that are often limited within their own agency policies (rather than a hospital or HMO system for example) which creates another level of systems change! One of the things that they spoke about that moved me most regarding end of life care was the decisions that LGBT people often have to face in this delicate time regarding whether to accept high quality end of life treatment or being out and supported by their community for fear of being treated poorly in these facilities. I cannot imagine how excoriating that decision must be.
Day 2 Blog Reflections
The second day at the GLMA LGBT Health Conference was steeped in highlighting the B and the T in ways I have not often seen at large-scale LGBT health conferences. Today there was an entire plenary about bisexual health where I learned so much (even though I thought I knew a lot!). One of the things I learned was that there often just as many people who identify as bisexual in our community as do identify as lesbian and gay! Although we need to work on measuring this more, I was astounded that I did not know that so many people identify as bi AND that there is so little funding, support, programming for bi folks in our community health work and in our community work in general. This is a disparity in our community…the attention that is given to this often invisible and isolated group. The speakers highlighted that invisibility and isolation often lead to more risk behaviors, more negative health outcomes, and disparities in mental health issues.
There were also a number of workshops today about transgender health and trans communities. One of them was about the need for transgender identified providers in our health care and mental health systems. As a trans mental health and public health provider I found this session particularly awesome because it highlighted that our communities are still looking for mentorship and people we know are our people when seeking care. Often times trans folks feel like the other in health care settings or feel as though they need to educate their providers about their trans identities, which makes the health care experience burdensome and difficult for many. Having access to providers who are trans can reduce the stress and burden…however, this means we need to find ways to fund trainees and training programs!!
Today I was thrilled to see all the sessions on bisexual and transgender health. The speakers acknowledged that often these communities are lost in the fray of the research and the conversations about LGBT health, and this year GLMA made sure that did not happen. Cheers to social change within our movement for equity.
shor salkas, MPH