Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hispanic Lesbians and Bisexual Women at Heightened Risk of Health Disparities

Posted: February 02, 2012
A recent study titled Hispanic Lesbians and Bisexual Women at Heightened Risk or Health Disparities, published in the American Journal of Public Health found Hispanic lesbian and bisexual women tend to be at a greater risk of worse health outcomes than Hispanic heterosexual as well as white lesbian and bisexual women. Little background literature covers health disparities among sexual minorities of color, especially Hispanics, according to the authors. This study aims to explore how Hispanic sexual minorities fare in health care access, health outcomes, health status, and health risk behaviors.

Hispanic lesbians and bisexual women, compared with Hispanic heterosexual women, were at elevated risk for disparities in smoking, asthma, and disability. Hispanic bisexual women also showed higher odds of arthritis, acute drinking, poor general health, and frequent mental distress compared with Hispanic heterosexual women. In addition, Hispanic bisexual women were more likely to report frequent mental distress than were non-Hispanic White bisexual women. Hispanic lesbians were more likely to report asthma than were non-Hispanic White lesbians.

The study used the weighted-data from a 7- year merged file of the Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 2003 – 2009. The sample size for the analysis was 6,338. Only Hispanic and white women who self- identified as lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual were included in the study. Within the sample, 1.1% were Hispanic lesbian and 1.6% were Hispanic bisexual. Data were collected for health status, health risk behaviors, health outcomes, and health care access.

This study is one of the first studies to assess disparities among Hispanic lesbian and bisexual women according to the authors. The authors suggest that further research is needed in order to develop culturally appropriate programs that meet the needs of these subgroups. This in turn, as the authors argue, will achieve the goals laid out Healthy People 2020.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bathrooms as Battlefields

Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 8:00 AM 14:20:31 EDT
Bathrooms: the new transgender battleground
A Baltimore victory proves that the ladies' room is equality's final frontier By Mary Elizabeth Williams

It’s a quiet little provision in a meaningful victory for equal rights. On Tuesday, Baltimore County approved measures prohibiting discrimination “on the basis of gender identity and expression and sexual orientation when it comes to housing, employment, public accommodations and financing.”

It’s that “public accommodation” part of Bill No. 3-12 that is especially hard-won, and so deeply meaningful. It was just last April that Chrissy Lee Polis, a 22-year-old transgender Baltimore woman, was beaten, kicked, dragged and spit upon by two teenaged girls after trying to enter a McDonald’s ladies room. A video shot by McDonald’s employee Vernon Hackett, who kept filming even as Polis went into a seizure, swiftly went viral. In it, several red-shirted McDonald’s workers can be seen plainly standing around and doing nothing to intervene.

What unfolded next turned the bathroom into a battleground, or at least, as the Montreal Gazette called it, a “washroom debate.” At issue – the rights of transgendered individuals to use the restrooms appropriate to their gender identities versus a whipped up concern over protecting females. Because as the bill moved forward, an amendment was added – and hotly debated – that would have specifically excluded “bathrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms” from protection. Supporters of the amendment argued that unchanged, the bill would lead to men wandering into ladies’ rooms to assault with impunity, even though, as the Baltimore Sun pointed out, “critics could not point to any specific incidents in places that have transgender anti-discrimination laws.”

In fact, in the Baltimore Sun earlier this week, transgendered writer Whitney Conneally called the argument:

… A wholly imagined threat to women from male voyeurs gaining access to female restrooms by impersonating the opposite sex — a scenario so absurdly unlikely that there has been no documented case of such a crime ever being committed in Maryland…. The idea that Baltimore County would suddenly be inundated with cross-dressing peeping Toms intent on insinuating themselves into women’s bathrooms to commit crimes would be almost comical if the stakes for sexual and gender equality weren’t so high.

That’s why it’s heartening that the bill passed without the amendment, making only vague provisions for “distinctly private or personal” facilities.

Gender is not always as clear-cut as an outline on a restroom door wearing a dress or pants. For people who are still transitioning, it can be tricky knowing when to make the move from one facility to the other. But sometime or another, everybody’s got to go. And as Jillian Page pondered Wednesday in the MontrĂ©al Gazette, “I’m just not sure what the women who are opposed really expect trans people to do when they need to use the washroom.” It should be obvious that the way a person lives his or her life everywhere else doesn’t abruptly change when it’s time to wash hands. We all deserve respect and protection, whether it’s at work or home or the ladies’ room of a McDonald’s. And sometimes, the biggest of victories for equality are won in the smallest of rooms.

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.More Mary Elizabeth Williams

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GAY MEN’S HEALTH SUMMIT 2012: Resiliency, Activism, Advocacy

GAY MEN’S HEALTH SUMMIT 2012: Resiliency, Activism, Advocacy
July 20-21, 2012 Washington, DC

The Broadway Revival of The Normal Heart has taken New York by storm introducing a new generation of gay, bi, and trans men to the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Now the Tony Awards winning show is coming to Washington DC. Join us on July 19th, the evening before the Gay Men's Health Summit, to experience this extraordinary performance at Arena Stage. The performance will benefit the DC Center, the host organization for the Gay Men's Health Summit.

This year the Gay Men's Health Summit is an affiliated event of the International AIDS Conference, which takes place in the days following the Summit. The International AIDS Conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic. It is a chance to assess where we are, evaluate recent scientific developments and lessons learnt, and collectively chart a course forward.

You are invited to propose an activity for the Gay Men’s Health Summit 2012, July 20-21, 2012, in Washington, DC. With the theme Resiliency, Activism, Advocacy, GMHS 2012 emphasizes the strengths of the gay male community and ways to marshal those strengths to explore, celebrate, and improve gay men’s health. The deadline for workshop proposals is March 15th.

Online registration is now available. We are pleased to announce affordable on-campus housing options between $45 and $65 per night. You can sign up for campus housing when you register for the summit, or if you prefer, you can make your own arrangements. Either way, we encourage you to make your plan soon. Hotels in DC will fill up quickly due to the many events happening around the 2012 International AIDS Conference.

The 2012 Gay Men's Health Summit, Washington DC



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Request for practice-based evidence for LGBT Tobacco Prevention

Dear Tobacco Control Network members:
Please see below for a request from our partners at the Network for LGBT Health Equity. Over the coming weeks, the Network is collecting information about best and promising practices in tobacco prevention in LGBT communities. Click here for background information about this project, or see below for specific topics of interest and links for submitting your stories.

As noted in the request below, all of our work can be strengthened by tapping into the collective wisdom of our networks, so free to forward this request to any colleagues or partners who may be able to respond.

Best regards,

Carissa Beatty, MPH, CHES
Program Coordinator, Tobacco Control Network (TCN) •

From: [] On Behalf Of Lee, Joseph
Sent: Monday, March 12, 2012 7:31 AM
Subject: [News] MPOWERED - Building The Network's Collective Wisdom

Dear Folk's on the Network's News List:
Greetings! As a member of the Network’s Steering Committee, I’ve been asked to introduce the Network’s effort to better collect our communities’ collective wisdom about tobacco prevention. We’re serious about this process of documenting the wisdom of our communities, and we need your help!

Over the next eight weeks, I’m asking for what lessons you’ve learned about a specific topics. I won't be pestering you each week, just with this e-mail. Please make sure we hear about the projects you've worked on.
If we can capture some of the lessons learned from your projects, we’ll be able to share it across states — and make all of our work stronger. No knowledge is too small!

We’ll be asking for what you’ve learned as your work engaged with these topics:

Week 1 (Closes 3/16/12) – Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies for all LGBT communities
Week 2 (Closes 3/23/12) - Protect LGBT people from tobacco smoke
Week 3 (Closes 3/30/12) - Offer help to quit tobacco use
Week 4 (Closes 4/6/12) - Warn about the dangers of tobacco (social marketing, counter marketing)
Week 5 (Closes4/13/12) - Enforce bans, promotion and sponsorship on tobacco advertising
Week 6 (Closes 4/20/12) - Raise taxes on tobacco products
Week 7 (Closes 4/27/12) - Evaluate and disseminate knowledge and practice
Week 8 (Closes 5/4/12) - Diversify the movement by engaging underserved LGBT populations, including youth, and encourage partnerships across disparity groups

That’s our proposed MPOWERED framework for collecting different types of wisdom. It parallels and adds to the World Health Organization’s framework for tobacco prevention evidence, but with a Network-style flourish that adds in evaluation and recognizes that we are stronger together in diverse coalitions than we are alone. We’re collecting evidence FROM practice to compliment and inform the existing [limited] research evidence. We’ll use both to better communicate best and promising practices in tobacco prevention in our community.

Thus, over the next eight weeks, please, chime in by e-mail (, through the links above, even on the back of a $20 bill. We’ll also have a random assortment of goodies (free pens and more!) that we’ll give away to respondents each week.

So, here’s to better knowledge and less of a tobacco disparity!
Best, Joseph.

Joseph G. L. Lee, MPH, CPH, Doctoral student
Schools of Medicine & Global Public Health
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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'Everyone' Doesn't Always Mean Me

Liz Margolies, L.C.S.W.
Clinical psychotherapist; founder and executive director, National LGBT Cancer Network, Posted: 03/ 7/2012 8:06 pm

As the executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network, my work is all about LGBT cancer survivors and those at risk. In the vast, multi-million dollar world of pink and teal ribbons, cancer organizations and foundations, we are nearly alone in this focus. I often interact with these mainstream groups, and when I do, I bring up the underserved and invisible LGBT community. "Oh, don't worry," they always say in that reassuring voice. "Our organization and our services are meant for everyone."

Really? In almost every instance, the flyer, the event, or the webpage for "everyone" doesn't include me.

If they write about cancer risks, there is no mention of the increased cancer risks of LGBT people. If they speak about screening or early detection, there is no mention of the additional difficulties LGBT people face, including discrimination and lower rates of health insurance. If they offer referrals for support groups, they rarely have one for LGBT survivors or caregivers. Most articles on of the impact of cancer treatment on sexuality assume that all of us are heterosexual. I am tired of feeling grateful for the information they do provide.

Let's try this test ourselves now. Imagine that I'm a lesbian whose partner was just diagnosed with lung cancer (remember that LGBT people use tobacco at nearly twice the national rate). I go to the Internet for information and support. Google's first suggestion is the National Lung Cancer Partnership. Their tag line is "Research, Awareness, Change." Sounds good so far. I click through to the website and type the word "lesbian" in the search box. What do I find? "No results matched your query." No, "everyone with lung cancer" does not include me.

Or let's imagine I am a transgender man looking to find a free, safe, and respectful place to receive a cervical pap smear. Let's also imagine that I don't live in one of the largest metropolitan centers in the country, but in, let's say, Clearwater, Fla. I go to Google and find the Florida Breast & Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. The opening paragraph tells me that they are free (good!), but I only qualify if I am a "woman." No, I am not welcome there. I suppose I could call and explain that, although I am not a woman, I have a cervix, but I fear the discomfort and discrimination I may face. No, "we provide pap smears for everyone who needs one" does not include me.

I know that there is an increasing number of organizations, facilities, and cancer websites that recognize the LGBT community. They show us that by including information we need, not by asking us to accept their one-size-fits-all approach. We need everyone to follow suit.

Last week, I met with a woman who wanted the National LGBT Cancer Network to distribute her articles on cancer survivorship. She said, "I don't specifically mention LGBT people in any of the pieces, but this information is of great benefit for everyone."

Really? She didn't understand that her information on the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, FMLA, is of limited value for LGBT people. FMLA is the federal law that requires that workers at large companies (with 50 employees or more) be granted unpaid, job-protected leave to recover from a serious health condition or to care for a seriously ill family member. But due to the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), LGBT workers cannot take paid and protected leave to care for domestic partners or same-sex spouses, even in states where they are legally married. So, no, I did not agree to distribute her articles.

As an LGBT person, my family is different, my support system is different, my access to care is different, and my welcome in your support groups is not guaranteed. If you don't know that and show me that you do, you are not including me. I will no longer be invisible and grateful.

Follow Liz Margolies, L.C.S.W. on Twitter:

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Taking the Pledge Not to Accept Tobacco Money

This is a message from an email I received.

If you are interested in ways to pursued individuals, legislators and organizations to refuse Big Tobacco donations, here is a link to a power point provided by "The Last Drag," an LGBT anti-tobacco website, which has been successful in California. You may adapt their strategies to your needs.

Remember, it is important to urge all organizations and events with which you are affiliated to make a stated policy not to accept these donations. Below is a list of LGBT elected officials in California who have agreed not to take money from Tobacco Companies thanks to an effort from Naphtali Offen, Research Associate with the LGBT Tobacco Research Project at the University of California, San Francisco.

" Meanwhile, of great concern to me is the unhappy history of AIDS service organizations taking money, often lots of it, from the tobacco industry. San Francisco AIDS Foundation, GMHC, Shanti Project, Gids Love We Deliver, and many others, have been recipients of the industry’s “largesse.” I think that’s no longer true, but I’m not sure. PM especially focused on AIDS food banks. It will be interesting to have definitive data on which kills more gay/bi men, AIDS or tobacco. We have our suspicions that it is the latter, especially now that AIDS mortality has been reduced, but we don’t yet know for sure.

Bottom line is we need AIDS groups AND LGBT groups to join the growing number of groups that have signed statements committing not to accept tobacco industry funding. See on the Last Drag website. It’s time for us to urge all our national groups to get onboard with this simple, but important step. Imagine, if a large number of prominent LGBT and AIDS groups took such a stand, how it would help young LGBTs coming out rethink their widely-held believe that being queer means you have to smoke."

Posted at

Friday, March 2, 2012

George on Ryan Gossling.

" Not that I don’t think Bradley Cooper is a perfectly sexy guy, but I’m still shocked that Ryan Gosling didn’t get Sexiest Man Alive last year. I thought he worked hard and ran a very solid campaign, so I feel that he was ripped off." George Clooney quoted in The Advocate.

I have been having a crappy week or two and this makes me smile. Of course, George Clooney makes me smile. Period. Even mentioning Bradley Cooper, who I think is icky.