Conferences · Feature · Philly Trans health conference

Revolutionary: Asking the Hard Questions

Pride Center Staff Photo



Bishop S.F. Makalani-Mahee

Minister. Performing Artist. Community Organizer




One of the blessings I receive from attending conferences such as Philly Trans Health is the intentional creation of space for dialogue, dialogue  that not shares experience, strength, and hope; but dialogue that challenges our thoughts, assumptions, and bias.  Here the keynotes addresses serve as family gathering/meeting where we affirm one another and remind each other we are not alone; discuss how to function more healthily as a family, and we can hold  each other accountable in love.

I was sitting in a workshop where a trans woman of color was cautioning us to have the conversations that shines a light on our shame so that our youth know we haven’t always been who we are today, and there were times when we made choices (for whatever the reason maybe) that we were not always proud of.  However, we realize that we don’t have to carry the shame of those choices with us for the rest of our lives.   When we engage each other in conversations, and ask each other the hard questions we create a space of truth, trust, respect, and non-judgment.

I left that session asking myself  “Where am I not being honest, about owning my own shame based experiences?” This was a hard question that I would not have been able to ask myself had there not been the intentional creation of the space to have conversations that ask the hard questions, and the strength, boldness, and courage of people to show up and share their shame  spoken in truth that becomes warrior marks and the bridges to our destiny.

I also feel that these conversations and asking the hard questions provide a lifeline for those of us who live in places where there is not large trans communities, or visible people of color communities, or resources for them; and as such there is not an ongoing dialogue that addresses living in a world impacted by micro-aggression, and confronting an oppressive white supremacist –capitalist-patriarchy that doesn’t want us to engage with or empower each other; which really makes me think that having conversation and asking the hard questions may be one of the most revolutionary things we can do.


Continue To Walk In The Light, Redefine Your Faith, and Remember It’s All The Rhythm.



Cross-posting · Feature · Huffington Post LGBT Wellness · Uncategorized

I Did It! A Colonoscopy





As the founder and executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network, I know full well how important it is to keep up with my own cancer screenings. Early detection saves lives. Yet, like many other LGBT people, I resist and postpone it.

Getting regular checkups and colon cancerscreening is the best way to prevent colorectal cancer. Finding and removing colon polyps helps prevent colon cancer, and if they’re found early, a cure is far more likely. Colonoscopies are recommendedevery 10 years, beginning at age 50, or sooner if you have a family history of colorectal cancer.

Most studies show that LGBT people have significantly lower colorectal cancer screening rates, especially transgender people and people of color. All our usual barriers to care (stigma, lack of health insurance, etc.) make it difficult, but really, who ever wants a camera up their butt? In the interest of getting more of us to do this, why don’t you follow me through the process?

Two months before the procedure: It wasn’t hard to get an appointment, but it took me two months to gather my resolve to call and set it up. I have had two colonoscopies in the past, both decent experiences with two perfectly nice gastroenterologists, so I don’t fully know what my barrier was this time around, but after my best friend recommended her doctor, I finally got myself to call. The point is: Do whatever it takes to get over the resistance.

One week before the procedure: I can’t believe how much time I am spending thinking about this, preoccupied with “preparation” day, a Sunday, during which I may eat absolutely nothing, drink only clear (not red or purple) liquids and take two rounds of laxatives, guaranteeing an evening seated on the toilet.

Several days in advance, I load up on all the interesting clear liquids I can find in my local market, sparing no expense. I buy fancy artisanal juices I usually scoff at. Variety also seems essential, and I purchase three boxes of blue Jell-O, which I plan to cube and eat with a fork, and a broth that means I can use a spoon. I decide to save the broth for “dinner.”

I make no plans for Sunday, even turning down an afternoon party invitation, as though being hungry is going to be a very time-consuming activity. (Did I just say “consuming”?) Yes, I am obsessing about food all week, interspersing it with anticipatory self-pity for my promised hunger.

Preparation day:

7:30 AM: With total defiance, I put 2 teaspoons of milk in my morning coffee. No, coffee was not on the “approved” list, but neither did I find it on the “forbidden” list, and I was not going to suffer a caffeine-withdrawal headache in addition to my starvation. I shower and weigh myself for a later post-fasting comparison.

9:17 AM: I make a huge bottle of herbal tea. I am feeling triumphantly not hungry, although my entire consciousness is on my stomach. I can beat this!

9:51 AM: I’m hungry! Uh, oh.

Noon: How can this be? I am simultaneously incredibly full (of tea) and still hungry. My body clearly knows the difference between liquids and solids, and it is not fooled. I must crave nutrients. I have downed 32 ounces of tea and one bottle of fancy lemonade while waiting for the Jell-O to solidify. I invent some errands and leave the house. I need some distance from the refrigerator.

1:00 PM: The blue Jell-O is gross yet oddly satisfying. I devour it, shoving my spoon directly in the large bowl, forgoing the civilized plan of cubing and forking. Within half an hour, I am myself again, sated, living a typical Sunday afternoon where I happen to not be eating anything. I read The New York Times.

6:00 PM: Having taking the first dose of laxatives (and having no dinner to prepare), I distract myself by binge-watching Scandal, waiting for the urge to purge. I take my second dose at 8 PM, never leaving my seat at the TV. This is a breeze!

9:30 PM: I begin my trips to the bathroom, pausing the show when I go. Unlike when I’ve had a stomach flu or food poisoning, there are no cramps. Easy and painless.

Midnight: I go to bed. Triumphant. Empty.

Procedure day:

7:30 AM: No coffee today; not even a sip of water permitted. I feel a bit weak and definitely thirsty. I shower and weigh myself. I lost only 2 pounds since yesterday. Only now do I begin to worry about what the colonoscopy might find. I hope I’m OK.

11:30 AM: It’s done! The sweet gastroenterologist (this field attracts the nicest clinicians!) introduced himself by apologizing for my hard night. In all, I tell him, it wasn’t even that bad. They wrapped me in blankets to keep me warm, and the anesthesiologist sent me into a lovely sleep before anyone laid a hand on my butt. By the way, their forms never asked about marital status but simply asked the name of anyone I designated to receive medical information about me.

12:30 PM: A friend met me (escorts are required), and we went to the closest diner for a huge omelet. I am perfectly healthy and can put off a repeat performance for another 10 years. Today I don’t even dread it.

For information on where you can find LGBT-welcoming free or low-cost cancer screening facilities near you, check out the directory of the National LGBT Cancer Network.


Liz Margolies, L.C.S.W.Founder and Executive Director
The Nation LGBT Cancer Network
As published on Huffington Post’s new LGBT Wellness blog, see original at:
Follow Liz Margolies, L.C.S.W. on Twitter:
Conferences · Feature · Monthly Updates · Staff/Program Updates · Technical Assistance

March Updates from the Network

Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity



Some major events have been taking place here at the Network, but first it’s all about CDC’s Tips campaign series. On March 4th, CDC launched its second phase of the Tips campaign series with popular ads from last years “Tips from Former Smokers” Campaign.  The campaign highlights the stories of real people who are suffering the results of smoking related health effects, such as throat cancer, stroke and asthma. The campaign is focused around “tips” from the people in the campaign, such as “When you have a hole in your neck, don’t face the shower head”. The “tips” are poignant, and emphasize the simple and powerful message that smoking has consequences. While a successful campaign, there were no tailored LGBT ads initially created. After advocating and working with CDC, an LGBT focused ad was created for social media and web use. The Network provided assistance to CDC to help them better understand the LGBT market and venues to promote the campaign and played a leadership role urging inclusion of all disparity communities in the Tips 2 campaign. Next month we will see the new Tips 2 ads released, and look forward to more comprehensive inclusion of disparity communities, including messaging and ad buys geared toward the LGBT community.

pic for blogIn an effort to continually provide resources to Quitlines, the Network partnered with the North American Quitline Consortium to offer a webinar titled Strategies for Building LBGT Faith and Confidence in Quitlines. We were pleased to hear how many years allies have been advocating for LGBT inclusion in their local quitlines using our resources and leadership. Never giving up, some were more successful than other, but they are still advocating. The sheer passion for inclusion was remarkable and to our surprise immediately after the call we were approached by three states that would like training and technical assistance resources on adding SO/GI measures to their Quitlines.

MO Group PhotoAs you are aware from our last report, we submitted a TA proposal to the Missouri Foundation for Health which we are pleased to report was funded. The new project is centered around policy change initiatives allowing the Network the flexibility to develop a replicable policy change initiative model that can be duplicated across the country. Ensuring no time was wasted, Scout and Gustavo hit the road to St. Louis to conduct the first in-person TA meeting with the local partners. Our two day meeting focused on Asset Mapping and looking at both internal and external opportunities to influence the project goals and objectives. Click here to learn more about this exciting new project.

The Network is also pleased to have tobacco control folks from across the country in Boston for the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco 19th Annual International Meeting. This year there are 7 posters presentations that address LGBT communities. We are highlighting the posters through a series of blogs, click here to view.

In closing, Dr. Scout had a new blog on the Huffington Post titled ʺWho can really stop smokingʺ which is a must read. In addition, as a follow-up to the Sellers Dorsey LGBT health retreat at the Rockefeller Foundation Center in Italy last year, this month Dr. Scout was invited to submit a proposal for a writing residency at the Rockefeller Center. His proposed project focused on transgender health policy change. If funded he would be one of only a few writers ever invited to focus on LGBT issues.

Feature · Monthly Updates · Resources · Staff/Program Updates · Technical Assistance · Tobacco Policy · Updates

February Updates From The Network

As we closed out January leading into February the Network had full representation at this year’s Creating Change 2013 Conference (CC13). Joined by our Blogging Scholarship Recipient Alex Aldana along with two guest bloggers Josh Gale and Trevoi Crump from National Youth Pride Services, we were able to showcase many of the great workshops and events that took place at CC13.

photo copyEvery year at Creating Change the Network facilitates an education campaign; this year we launched our Governors Initiative. This is a community based best practices initiative focused on bridging the gap between LGBT individuals and health by engaging them to send a postcard to their governor asking if LGBT health best practices are being implemented in their state. We have printed four questions on the postcards, each based on our MPOWERED best practices: Does the state collect LGBT data as a routine part of all health surveys (such as BRFSS & YRBS), are health department and grantee staff trained in LGBT cultural competency and health disparities, are LGBT people included in community advisory bodies, are LGBT images routinely reflected in public health promotional materials? We are very pleased to report we already have postcards collected for thirty different states.

Arkansas Group ShotThis month Gustavo visited Arkansas for the third time, this time expanding his technical assistance to a broader group of stakeholders from across the Arkansas Department of Health. On this trip, we’re pleased to report they launched a strategy we’d been suggesting to them on prior trips, the creation of an Arkansas LGBT Tobacco & Health Coalition. They are also implementing a larger scale LGBT integration strategy across the state department of health. To help this strategy Gustavo was able to meet with state health representatives from grants management, cessation, media, chronic disease, and HIV, among others. Gustavo also facilitated the largest LGBT health meeting in the state, a convening of 30 different community and state stakeholders beginning the work on their LGBT tobacco & health action plan. In order to strengthen the work in Arkansas, the Network is collaborating with The National LGBT Health Education Center here at the Fenway Institute, who has done some training with the University of Arkansas’ Medical Campus. As is our policy, we connected local state representatives with the local community based organizations that are part of CenterLink and the Equality Federation. In this case, Gustavo arranged for state staff to visit the Center for Artistic Revolution. We couldn’t be more pleased with Arkansas’ willingness to put best practice guidelines into the field and look forward to subtantive local changes as a result.

In a similar story, one of the states with whom we have been doing years of work had a success this month. West Virginia was the state that first asked us to outline the science justifying LGBT data collection, spurring our LGBT Tobacco Surveillance Briefing Paper. We’re happy to report this month their tobacco data release was led by the news of the LGBT smoking disparity, news that ultimately gained them coverage in the biggest state newspaper. See the story, including our quotes here.

In other assorted notes this month, the Network submitted an invited proposal to the Missouri Foundation for Health to provide Technical Assistance to a local health policy project. Dr. Scout submitted a section on tobacco for a forthcoming book, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves. He has also been confirmed as the plenary speaker for Nebraska’s state tobacco conference in April. As follow-up to the last month’s request to Sebelius for more funded LGBT tobacco research, we also had a meeting with the head of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, Dr. Lawrence Deyton. FDA’s CTP is investing heavily in new tobacco regulatory research. Dr. Deyton was very open to suggestions on how to ensure LGBT people (and all disparity populations) were included in the range of tobacco research; look for more information on that initiative in coming months.

Feature · LGBT Policy · Resources · social media · Technical Assistance

LGBT Tobacco Control Efforts Taking The Spotlight

Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity
MPOWERED: Taking on CDC 

LGBT Communities smoke at rates 68% higher than the general population there is much work to be done to protect, and preserve our community, and many reasons that this disparity exists. Yesterday, Legacy released a report titled Tobacco Control in LGBT Communities.

To mark the release, Legacy hosted a panel discussion as part of their Warner lecture Series Tobacco Use in the LGBT Communities: Why LGBT People Smoke So Much & What Can Be Done About It . The panel took place at the Human Rights Campaign Headquarters in copy

For those of you who watched the live webcast, I am sure you can agree that this was a hugely dynamic group of folks, speaking with both passion and commitment about working to reduce the health disparities affecting our communities. While the focus was LGBT Tobacco Control, there was a lot of discussion about the intersectionality of tobacco and other health disparities that affect disparity communities. Next week, the webcast will be available on the Legacy archive, and we highly recommend you check it out if you missed the webinar yesterday!

Also, if you’re on twitter, you can search #warnerseries to see the blow-by-low live tweeting from the event!

Last year the American Lung Association released their report: Smoking Out The Deadly Threat, and the panel yesterday was yet another exciting moment when a national organization released a report addressing the issues and challenges around tobacco use in the LGBT community.

As the tides shift both on a national and local level, we are so excited to see the growing support for comprehensive inclusion of LGBT communities in Tobacco Prevention and Control!

Check out this amazing video shown at the event

More to come about this exciting event…

Data · Feature · LGBT Policy · Resources · Tobacco Policy · Uncategorized

LGBT Communities & Tobacco Use Report Release LIVE WEBCAST TODAY

LGBT Communities & Tobacco Use

A recent article in the American Journal of Public Health analyzed nationally representative survey results and found that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people smoke cigarettes at rates that are nearly 70 percent higher than the general population. Legacy is committed to raising awareness of the high prevalence of tobacco use within these communities and highlighting solutions to address it.

Dissemination Report: Tobacco Control in LGBT Communities

This is the twelfth publication in Legacy’s dissemination series. It calls attention to the issue of the high prevalence of tobacco use and nicotine dependence in LGBT communities in the United States and examines sociocultural facets of tobacco use and tobacco-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors among LGBT individuals. It also includes four examples of promising projects implemented by Legacy’s past grantees to address the high prevalence of tobacco use and tobacco-related disparities in this population.

Download a PDF of Tobacco Control in LGBT Communities here.

Video: “Tobacco Control in LGBT Communities”

A look at tobacco use among the LGBT population through personal stories and expert insights from:

  • Dr. Scout, Director, The Fenway Institute’s Network for LGBT Health Equity
  • Amari Pearson-Fields, Former Deputy Director, Mautner Project
  • Bil Browning, Editor-In-Chief, Bilerico Project Blog

Warner Series: “Tobacco Use in the LGBT Communities: Why LGBT People Smoke So Much & What Can Be Done About It”

On December 11th, 2012, Legacy and the Human Rights Campaign hosted a panel discussion examining the socio-cultural factors influencing tobacco use in LGBT communities in the U.S., which result in high prevalence rates, disease and loss of life.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
3:30 PM Eastern
Human Rights Campaign Headquarters, Washington D.C

View the webcast or RSVP in Person here.


Fact Sheet: “LGBT Communities and Smoking”

Explore the correlation between different LGBT groups and tobacco use.

Download a PDF of the fact sheet here

Cross-posting · Feature · Presentations · social media · Staff/Program Updates · White House

Network Staff in First Agency-Wide “I AM: Trans People Speak” Video, also Great Public Health Tool

Imageby Emilia Dunham

Guest Blogger / Former Network Staff / The Fenway Institute Study Coordinator

I am very pleased to announce the release of Fenway Health’s contribution to the  “I AM: Trans People Speak” campaign, which I coordinated through my new study for young transgender women, the LifeSkills project of The Fenway Institute.

ImageIf you’re not familiar, the “I AM” project is an amazingly powerful campaign raising awareness about the diversity that exists within transgender communities. It gives a voice to transgender individuals, as well as their families, friends, and allies. In the video’s premier, I hosted at Fenway, LifeSkills Investigator Sari Reisner discusses how it is also a brilliant public health campaign.

Research shows how projects like the “I AM” videos are fantastic examples of how media campaigns are widely recognized as useful public health tools, and that focused, well-executed health media campaigns can change some health knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. (Randolph & Viswanath, 2004) (Noar, 2006) – Sari Reisner, 11/14/2012

Demonstrating the impact of this campaign, our event listing and video were cross-posted in multiple locations including MTPC, GLAADBoston.comThe Rainbow Times and GLAAD! Even more significantly, major news outlets like CBS have picked up the campaign! A few professors and students have mentioned their plans to use in their classrooms as well. Just think about the incredible impact this campaign could have!

Making this fun, moving and theoretically informed video even better, the Network’s own Daniella Matthews-Trigg, Gustavo Torrez and *your’s truly* appear at various points in the video! As you know the Network is all about how the effects of social media can be tools for advocacy in public health, and this is a prime example that’s just in time for Transgender Awareness Week. It’s ok if you watch just to see our lovely faces, but also consider sending around to your friends, family, classmate/students and colleagues for your part in Transgender Awareness Week or make your own video after watching some on the website.

As we see how even the White House is recognizing Transgender Awareness Week, and that folks like Scout have a seat at the White House table for trans policy initiatives, it’s important to have positive public health tools like this campaign to help educate along the way.

Noar SM. (2006). A 10-year retrospective of research in health mass media campaigns: Where do we go from here? Journal of Health Communication, 11, 21-42.

Randolph W, Viswanath K. (2004). Lessons learned from public health mass media campaigns: Marketing health in a crowded media world. Annual Review of Public Health, 25, 419-437.

Feature · Summit

SUMMIT UPDATES- Abstract Submissions Open, Open Call Youth Planning Committee, Online Payment & Registration

By Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
8th National LGBT Health Equity Summit Updates 

Good Afternoon,

The Network along with our Summit Planning Committee is pleased to share three exciting announcements with you all.

First | Abstracts Open, Abstract Submission for the 8th National LGBT Health Equity Summit is now open. Abstracts must be submitted by March 19th, 2012 at 11:59 pm EST. For more information and to fill out the application form online, please click HERE.

Second | Seeking Youth for Youth Planning Committee, In addition to the Summit Planning Committee the Network is seeking applications from youth age 16-24 to be a part of the Summit Youth Planning Committee. We will be accepting applications until March 9th and we are looking to select 6-8 youth from across the country  to assist with a youth presence at the summit. For more information please click HERE, and make sure you share the information with your networks, and/or interested youth.

Third | Online Payment and Registration Options Now Available, Online Registration and Payment for the Summit is now available! Click here HERE to register online and HERE to make your payment using our secure eventbrite check out process. Not about the technology? Don’t worry you can still click HERE to download the form, and mail us in your payment and completed registration form.

If you have any question about any of the information provided please feel free to email us at anytime.

And, as always, If you want to be the first to receive all of the summit updates directly sign up HERE.

On behalf of the Network and The Summit Planning Committee we all look forward to seeing you at the 8th National LGBT Health Equity Summit.  More amazing details and updates soon to come.

Creating Change · Creating Change 2011 · Feature

Thoughts on Creating Change Conference

Hector Martinez

Blogging Scholarship Winner
Reporting from Creating Change
January 2012 Baltimore, MD

It has been a privilege to attend The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Creating Change Conference. I want to especially thank the beautiful people at The Network, Dr. Scout, Gustavo and Daniella for their support. These last few days have been inspiring and magical. I met some bold leaders in the LGBT movement, had some big discussions and got a picture with the fabulous Kate Clinton. I met people from all over the US passionately dedicated to the LGBT movement, learned valuable people skills at the workshops and best of all I made some awesome friends. I will be able to go back to San Diego lit up by the power of our movement. I am sure that my new friend Sivagami Subbaraman’s vision of evolving from a place of woundedness to a place of wholeness will happen in our community. Thank you to all the people who made this conference a huge success!

Feature · Uncategorized

Hello Daniella! Introducing the Network’s Newest Team Member

It gives me great pleasure to announce the newest addition to our team, Daniella Matthews-Trigg. As she would say “Born to two public health parents in the enchanted state of New Mexico, my fate as a health nerd was sealed from the beginning.” 

Daniella studied Anthropology and Sociology at Mills College in Oakland, CA, where she also co-founded the Women’s Health Resource Center and was enthusiastically indoctrinated by feminist and queer rhetoric.

Back and forth between Albuquerque and Oakland, she trained as a peer sexual health educator at UC Berkeley and taught health classes with Peer Health Exchange in Oakland Public Schools. She worked with the New Mexico Department of Health Tuberculosis Clinic and in the Family Planning Department as well as interning with the California Department of Health STD Control Branch. Her commitment to LGBT health access and equity was solidified while volunteering at Lyon-Martin Health Services in San Francisco.

As a newbie to Boston, she loves to explore the city. More importantly she loves to spend quality time with her immersion blender, making “the best hummus you’ve ever had”. She’s also pretty good at making pizza dough from what I hear, and is a champion thrift shopper.

We are pleased to welcome her to the team… Feel free to send your own welcome comments to Daniella using the form below or by emailing her at