Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.
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This week, we reflect back on some of the biggest stories we covered during 2020. Don’t forget that you can access our full library of roundups here and also subscribe to the LGBT Wellness Roundup podcast wherever you listen!
The Year of the Pandemic
While the COVID-19 pandemic was of course the defining event of 2020, it was also a major story for LGBT health and wellness. Have LGBT people been particularly at risk for COVID-19 infections or related complications? That’s hard to say, since little data has been collected by government offices in charge of collecting this data. Even in California – where a law was passed to add sexual orientation and gender identity questions to COVID-19 testing – that data has still yet to be collected.
Centers Stepping Up
The COVID-19 pandemic also meant that LGBT people were subjected to extreme isolation as stay home orders were issued and businesses, schools, and jobs were shut down; they were also more likely to face financial impacts as a result of the shutdowns. Luckily, LGBT centers across the country stepped in to provide remote services like support groups and social opportunities, as well as modified health services that reduced in-person contact, and emergency services like food pantries and other forms of aid. To help out or get support yourself, check out CenterLink’s interactive LGBT center directory.
Health Innovations Emerge
With many health centers closing for non-emergencies, transportation options being limited, and folks being advised to stay home, many health innovations emerged in 2020 that stand to benefit LGBT people in the long run (if they remain in place). For example, the CDC issued guidance on how to make PrEP more accessible with fewer visits to doctors and pharmacies – changes that could make this HIV prevention treatment easier to access moving forward. Transgender people in particular also benefitted from the adoption of telehealth services, which generally have been shunned by insurers and thus providers, but which have helped trans people in areas with few gender affirming care providers suddenly have a lot more options.
Supreme Court Signals Change
Beyond COVID-19, another major story in 2020 was the landmark Supreme Court decision, Bostock v. Clayton County. This decision held that the law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in employment included sexual orientation- and gender identity-based discrimination, too. While employment itself is important for health and wellness (including through accessing insurance and income), the decision could have an even more direct impact on health as the reasoning of the case is used in healthcare discrimination cases.
Responding to Racial Injustice
As the U.S. reacted to the deaths of Black individuals like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police, many in the LGBT movement stood up in support of racial justice. In Los Angeles, for example, the typical summer Pride celebration was exchanged for a march in support of Black lives. Many LGBT organizations highlighted the health disparities that LGBT people of color, particularly Black and Latinx individuals, face even when compared to their White LGBT peers, as well as to discuss the issue of racism within the LGBT community.
Trans Representation Grows
One way to advance equity is to increase representation of LGBT people in office. 2020 saw the election of several transgender candidates into state offices, from Vermont to Colorado and from Deleware to Kansas. 2020 also saw Pennsylvania’s secretary of health, who happens to be a trans woman, come into the spotlight as she led the state’s response to COVID-19 (and stood strong in the face of mistreatment). To find out how you can get involved in LGBT policy issues, too, check out our ActionLink program.