HealthLink E-Summit: One Day Down, One to Go!

logoCorey Prachniak serves as Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee and is an attorney focused on health policy, as well as a current Zuckerman Fellow at Harvard University. Corey tweets @CPrachniak.

Wow.

When the LGBT HealthLink Steering Committee decided to host an online “E-Summit” to bring together people interested in LGBT health, we didn’t know if it would work… Mostly because we made the idea up! But we wanted our committee and staff to be able to interact with the community we serve, and since we couldn’t fly everyone to HealthLink’s sunny home in Florida, we thought we’d give it a try.

Yesterday, we had over a hundred registrants for a full afternoon of sessions, featuring many members of our Steering Committee, HealthLink’s staff, and even special guest Jessica Hyde from the Texas Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. Over the course of the afternoon, we engaged in discussions on LGBT rights in healthcare, the disproportionate burden of cancer in LGBT communities, and the way that LGBT-based disparities interplay with disparities based on other aspects of people’s identities.

And it’s not over yet! Join us today (Friday) at 4:00pm Eastern for a fabulous presentation on LGBT tobacco disparities by no fewer than four members of our stellar Steering Committee and HealthLink’s Policy Manager, Juan Carlos Vega. This session, “We’re a Movement, Not a Market!,” is open to the public and is going to be an amazing way to cap off Day 2 of our events. HealthLink started as a tobacco control group, and even as we’ve grown and diversified to take on an array of LGBT health disparities, fighting tobacco remains at the heart of our mission. I’m sure the passion for positive change in our community will come across loud and clear this afternoon.

So, a big thank you to all who joined us yesterday and who will join us today. And a particularly big thank you to Jenna Wintemberg, a member of our Steering Committee and the co-chair of this event, for her many hours of hard work in putting this together. (You can even hear from Jenna at today’s tobacco session and thank her yourself!)

Oh – and if the work we’re doing is your kinda thing, you may be interested to know that we’re preparing to launch a brand-new membership program in the near future. You can sign up to learn more here.

Join Us for our LGBT Health E-Summit, October 15th and 16th

 

Corey Prachniak serves as Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee and is an attorney focused on health policy, as well as a current Zuckerman Fellow at Harvard University. Corey tweets @CPrachniak.


For the past few months, I have been working with our fabulous steering committee and staff to put together a two day virtual conference, or “E-Summit,” on LGBT health issues. I’m excited to invite you to join us this Thursday and Friday, the 15th and 16th of October. Once you have registered for the event, you’ll be able to jump onto the webinar during any of the sessions that interest you.

On Thursday 10/15, we will kick things off at 3:00pm Eastern Time with a session on LGBT rights in healthcare, followed by a session on LGBT cancer issues at 4:00pm Eastern and finally a session on intersectionality of identities and health disparities at 5:15pm Eastern. On Friday 10/16, we will finish up with a terrific session on tobacco use in LGBT communities at 4:00pm Eastern.

You can get all the details on these presentations by downloading the program, and you can register to participate here. All of these events are open to all.

By the way – if you like the work that HealthLink is doing, and want to be involved in events like this in the future, I have good news! We are in the process of launching a free membership program that will allow individuals interested in LGBT health to partner with us in exciting ways. You can sign up to learn more here.

I hope to “see” you this Thursday and Friday!

You Got Covered – Now Know Your Rights

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Corey Prachniak serves as Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee, and is an LGBT rights and healthcare attorney.  Corey tweets @LGBTadvocacy.

 

It’s hard to believe that it has been more than four months since LGBT HealthLink, in conjunction with Promo Found, launched the LGBT Healthcare Bill of Rights.  So far, this initiative has been endorsed by nearly 90 organizations ranging from major LGBT rights organizations like HRC and Lambda Legal to statewide organizations  and local community centers all across the country.  On Twitter, the #LGBTHBOR has been tweeted to almost 1.5 million followers.

HBORAlmost 12 million people just got healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s federal and state-based exchanges.  Millions more have joined Medicaid as a result of the Act.  At the same time, the spread of marriage equality and implementation of antidiscrimination laws means that more LGBT people in particular are getting access to coverage.

Whether you’re newly insured for the first time (in which case congrats!) or have had your same insurance for years, why not take a few minutes to learn more about your rights that relate to that coverage?  And your rights that relate to healthcare more broadly?

We hope that you never face discrimination in accessing care.  But if you do, the Healthcare Bill of Rights will connect you to resources so that you can report the discrimination.  We also have resources for finding healthcare providers who are LGBT-friendly so that if you don’t feel comfortable where you are now, you can switch.

And just in case you lose that data signal on your cell, you can download the Bill as a PDF or a printable wallet-sized card.  Pretty snazzy, huh?

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¡Nuestro programa de tus derechos en cuanto a la asistencia médica se habla español!   Descarga aquí.

 

Coming Out for Equal Rights in Healthcare

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Corey Prachniak serves as Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee, and is an LGBT rights and healthcare attorney.  Corey tweets @LGBTadvocacy.

 

 

A few weeks before my closest aunt came to visit me in college, I came out to her in the P.S. of an unrelated email.  The content of the confession was as timid as its placement: something like, “Just so you know, I’m pretty sure I’m gay.”  A few weeks later, her visit came and went with her never mentioning what I had said.

It was only nine months later that I learned my aunt had missed my P.S. entirely.  She had to learn about my coming out through the grapevine (i.e., my other aunts), and when she confronted me about it she seemed hurt. “Why didn’t you come out to me sooner?” she asked.  “I’m the only one in the family who knows what you’re going through.”

Before I could explain that I had, in fact, attempted to come out, I had to address the bombshell buried in her own message: she could understand what I was going through??  She was gay herself??

In truth, I had long-suspected that she might be part of “the family,” but I always figured that if she wanted me to know, she would tell me.  My aunt took the opposite approach, and presumed that if people really wanted to know the truth, they would figure it out themselves.

Last month, I helped launch the Healthcare Bill of Rights with LGBT HealthLink and PROMO.  Some have asked why LGBT people even need a document like this.  The answer, I think, is that many of us take the aforementioned approaches to coming out of the closet.  Either we’re P.S. Queer, and tack on our sexuality where it’s least likely to be seen, or we’re You’ll Know if You Want to Know Queer, and we wait for others to ask or figure it out themselves.

I think my aunt’s mentality to coming out was really beautiful, and showed true faith in the ability of people to come around and accept her – not just as a listener, but as an active participant in seeking out who she was.

But for the purposes of my work as a healthcare advocate, both her approach and my own were flawed.

The preamble to our Healthcare Bill of Rights begins, “Your personal life and relationships affect your health more than you realize, so your doctor and other providers need to know your story.”  If you don’t think that your sexuality and gender identity are relevant to your healthcare providers, just read about all the disparities our community faces.

The Bill continues by saying, “We should all feel safe talking about” our partners, sex lives, and genders.  Sure, this is easy for me to say from my perch in relatively-progressive DC, but this is an aspiration goal that the whole country is making progress on and one that is increasingly within reach – if we know to fight for it.

The main purpose of the Healthcare Bill of Rights is not to create a litigious army of courtroom-ready queer folks.  It is not designed to provide a full legal education on every issue.  Actually, as I see it, the law is really secondary here.

The point is that for these rights to even matter, providers have to know we’re LGBT or else we don’t get good care.  By spreading the word about people’s rights, we hope to make them feel comfortable coming out and demanding (and receiving) quality healthcare.

We can’t P.S. one of the most important parts of our identities to the people who make us healthy.  Nor can we hope they’ll figure it out themselves or take the hint and ask us.  It’s time for us to take control of our own health and reverse the tides against us.

Check out the Healthcare Bill of Rights, and see why over 80 organizations have signed on to say that we deserve equal rights in healthcare.

Missouri Case Study 10 – Making LGBT Health Matter in Missouri Hospitals

Andrew Shaughnessy, Manager of Public Policy for PROMO

Andrew Shaughnessy
Manager of Public Policy, PROMO Missouri
@andrewshag

This year has proven to be a monumental year for LGBT Missourians. Those monumental steps have been the recognition of out-of-state marriages by the State of Missouri, and the leadership of nearly 47 Missouri hospitals, who have included 105 new LGBT welcoming policies to their core values. As an LGBT Missourian it certainly gives me relief to know that I can access health care facilities and be me: my authentic self.

In 2013, only two Missouri Hospitals, Children’s Mercy in Kansas City and the VA in St. Louis, qualified as leaders in the Human Rights Campaign Care Equality Index (HEI). In the coming days the health sector will see the launch of the 2014 HEI, where several of Missouri’s top hospitals have been reviewed on their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) welcoming policies.  This year, Missouri will see several hospitals both in rural and urban areas that have been working to ensure their facilities are welcoming to all.

To learn more about the policies of Missouri Hospitals, click here for a map detailing their LGBT welcoming policies.

We have truly made LGBT health matter among Missouri’s top hospitals, but the work of the LGBT health policy project does not stop there. Through the technical assistance of Dr. Scout, Director of LGBT HealthLink, we will continue to work with health and social services organizations in Missouri to ensure that we are creating spaces free from discrimination. Through our collaboration with Sherrill Wayland, Executive Director of SAGE Metro St. Louis, we will be training Missouri’s health and social service professionals to understand the unique needs of LGBT patients.  And we will continue to advocate for the health of LGBT families and our families of choice.

As we begin to look at the legal future for the LGBT community, we must be concerned with the growing disparities we find in LGBT health. Our next frontier is on the borders of health and making sure that we are a strong and healthy community. I’m humbled to be a part of this work. Having experienced discrimination in a health care setting myself, I assure you your voice is not going unheard.

 

#BWLGBTI Day 3 Part 2: Community-based research is still important

dwayne

 

 

Dwayne Steward

LGBTQ Health Advocate
Columbus Public Health

 

 

We’ve come to the end of the LGBTI Health Research Conference at Baldwin Wallace University. This has been a very life-changing experience, for which I am truly grateful. Being in the room with so many experts that have and are currently making groundbreaking changes in the country, and around the world, regarding the inclusion of LGBTI communities in health research has been phenomenal. I can’t thank the Network for LGBT Health Equity enough for this amazing opportunity.

Jacob Nash

Jacob Nash

The conference began it’s last half with two lively panel discussions. The first was “Community Perspectives Regarding LGBTI Health” featuring Jacob Nash (transgender activist and director of Margie’s Hope), Alana Jochum (Equality Ohio’s Northeast Ohio Regional Coordinator) and Maya Simek (program director for The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland). Jochum made some very interesting points regarding how LGBTI health research has made historic advances in LGBTI rights possible. She referenced several court cases that have used the statistics compiled by researchers, several in the room, in major courtroom arguments for marriage equality. Her examples helped further illustrate the need for the work of those attending the conference. Nash and Simek put out calls to researchers for more specified research studies on marginalized populations and offered insights on the health issues they’re seeing among marginalized populations. They both reiterated the need for more collaboration between activists and health researchers.

The conference officially ended with “LGBTI Health and Human Rights in International Settings” with a very dynamic panel of LGBTI health community organizers from Latin America and India.

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“LGBTI Health and Human Rights in International Settings” Panel

Wendy Castillo, a community organizer from El Salvador who has done work providing safe spaces for lesbian and transgender women, spoke at length about the tragic murders that continue take the lives of transgender women regularly in El Salvodor and the struggles organizations there face with trying to keep transgender women safe. Daniel Armando Calderon and Alejandro Rodriguez, both community organizers around issues facing the MSM community in Columbia, discussed how they try to decrease barriers for “heterosexual MSM’ and other special populations needing HIV care and other health services.

Vivek Anand, of Humsafar Trust, closed out the conference with more detail regarding his efforts regarding the recent re-criminalization of homosexuality in India. His organization has courageously come to the forefront of attacking this law that was passed by the country’s Supreme Court after massive efforts from religious leaders. I thinks it quite admirable that the work he’s doing is heralding and sometimes dangerous, but he faces it head on with an upbeat attitude. He ended his presentation with a video of Gaysi‘s (an LGBT advocacy organization in Mumbai) #notgoingback campaign, one of the efforts to build awareness and garner support for repealing the law. The upbeat video, featuring Pharrell Williams’ massive hit song “Happy,” is a perfect representation of Anand’s bubbly activist spirit.

And thus we end our time together my friends. Please always remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King that I used to start this blog series, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Let’s never end this very important conversation!

#BWLBGTI Day 2 Post-Lunch: Revisiting sexual health

dwayne

Dwayne Steward 
LGBTQ Health Advocate
Columbus Public Health

After lunch at day 2 of the LGBTI Health Research Conference at Baldwin Wallace is all about sexual health. Historically this would have been the bulk of such a conference as this. As most of us know, pathology-focused research on homosexuality and gender diversity, along with the stigma associated with the HIV/AIDS epidemic forced LGBTI healthcare into a sexual health box for many years. It’s interesting to see that the pendulum is swinging back the other way in some ways as we as LGBTI healthcare workers/researchers are now having to convince certain communities that sexual health is still an important factor of the LGBTI health experience.

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Dr. Anthony Silvestre, professor of Infectious Disease and Microbiology at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh, opened with a lunch-time keynote on the history of sexual health research, reminding us how far we’ve come regarding the study of sex and sexuality in this country. He than joined Dr. Brian Dodge, Indiana University-Bloomington School of Public Health, for the “LGBTI Health Training” seminar track, which included a lively discussion on the changing landscape of HIV and intersectionality in public health research.

There was definitely a lot of talk about training program models in Indiana and Pennsylvania, but through the lens of sexual health research. Dr. Silvestre spoke on University of Pittsburgh’s LGBT health certificate program along with several other LGBT-focused specialized programs the university offers, including a post-doctorate program that specialized in MSM (men who have sex with men) healthcare.

Dr. Dodge made several interesting conjectures about the study of sexual health saying, much of the conversation regarding sexual health has been risk based. “We need to be including more about the actual pleasure of sex and begin taking a more sex-positive approach. It is okay for gay sex to be enjoyable,” he said. He went on to say that programs should take a more competency-based approach to better prepare students for their post-college endeavors.

My fellow Network for LGBTQ Health Equity scholarship recipients Heru Kheti (middle) and E.Shor (right).

My fellow Network for LGBTQ Health Equity scholarship recipients Heru Kheti (middle) and E.Shor (right).

Dr. Francisco Sy, director of the Office of Community-Based Participatory Research and Collaboration at the NIH/National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), took a moment to educate the audience on the NIH grant process and how to best navigate their grant application process. But the day’s real winner was Dr. Erin Wilson’s presentation, “HIV Among Trans-Female Youth: What We Now Know and Directions for Research and Prevention.” Dr. Wilson, who is a former NIMHD Loan Repayment Program (LRP) recipient and research scientist currently with the AIDS Office at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, quickly (due to time constraints) spoke on her ground-breaking NIH-funded research on the social determinants of health that led to high HIV-infection rates for transgender female youth in Los Angeles.

The statistics Dr. Wilson reported were pretty staggering. She prefaced much of her presentation by saying her studies were very specific to L.A. and she had no research to show that this was reflective of the national transgender female population. She reported finding that transgender females in L.A. were 34 times more likely to contact HIV than the general population and at the time of her study nearly 70 percent of transgender female youth in L.A. participated in sex work. As a result of her work The SHINE Study was created, the first longitudinal study of trans*female youth that still continues today. Though nearly 40 percent of transgender females in L.A. are living with HIV only 5 percent are youth. “We have a great opportunity to get ahead of this disparity and create some real change,” she said.

That’s all for today my friends. Check back tomorrow for a full report on Day 3 of the Baldwin Wallace University LGBTI Health Research Conference (#BWLGBTI)!