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A Federal Office of LGBT Health can no longer wait

Posted by willow On November - 19 - 2009
On the eve of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, we cannot help but be moved by the impact of discrimination on our communities,  11 gender non-conforming individuals killed in US alone this past year. It is imperative to speak up to eliminate discrimination; discussing the devastating effects of discrimination and violence on both the individual and their community. A component of discrimination that should not be overlooked is its link to health.
No one should be afraid to come out to their doctor. Our health professionals should have access to information on how discrimination affects our health and what they can do to make it better. Too little attention has been paid to our health needs for too long. With the current focus on federal health reform we can no longer wait to close the gaps in our health needs.

Over the past two decades, limited research has established the trend that LGBTs are a health disparate population with increased health risks and access to care barriers, producing a broad pattern of disparities in many health areas. People in our community are more likely to delay routine medical care due to past negative experiences with providers, which puts the population at-risk for higher rates of preventing chronic conditions such as cancer.  Because of the social stressors LGBTs endure like homophobia and isolation, we have higher rates of substance abuse, mental health problems and stress-related disorders.

Unfortunately, lack of data collection and only sporadic inclusion in policy, research, and intervention programs has hindered the efforts to address and ultimately reduce these disparities. With the change of administration, it is time for us to unite as activists, health professionals, and LGBT advocates in the struggle for health equality.

Please support us by signing our petition (click here) urging the federal government to create an Office of LGBT Health.

Equal health is a part of equal rights and as we fight for full federal equality we need our government to understand that our health needs cannot wait.

We cannot be an invisible population anymore. This is a time of health reform, the leaders must hear our cry loud and clear: WE ARE A PRIORITY!

Health care reform and LGBT Americans

Posted by admin On September - 10 - 2009

The following Op-Ed was written by Joe Mirabella. Joe Mirabella is a volunteer for Join the Impact as the Washington State Community Organizer.  Mirabella is a full time writer and content developer. He is engaged to marry his partner of 5 1/2 years in their home state of Iowa.

Last night President Obama addressed the nation about an issue that is important to all Americans. Regardless of any other defining trait or political agenda, our mutual humanity unites us under one common umbrella; we will all at one point in our lives require medical attention. Anyone who has experienced a serious or debilitating medical condition understands that our current system is overwhelmingly flawed.  Even those of us who have had only minor medical problems understand all to well how quickly medical bills can overwhelm us even if we have insurance. Our country is blessed with some of the best medical minds in the world, and yet access is rationed based on economic and social status. Modern societies should care for the weakest among them. The United State’s is fully capable of fulfilling its fundamental promise in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Elemental in the pursuit of happiness in our modern society must be access to health care services. Like so many progressive citizens I am dismayed that the debate about one of the most important institutions in our nation was hijacked by a few unstable individuals. It is vitally important that the President knows he has the support of the progressive community as he continues this important debate.   There are currently 5 bills making their way through congress (3 in the house, 2 in the Senate) and we must monitor all of them to make sure the town criers do not intimidate our elected officials from producing a quality and fair bill.

Join the Impact’s mission is to continue the conversation about LGBT citizens and our desire to be treated equally under the law in all 50 states in all matters of civil law. Health care reform fits within that mission. It is vital that the progressive LGBT community insists our families are included in the final legislation. We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who do not have basic hospital visitation rights when the person they spend a lifetime with becomes ill. We understand that people die alone in hospitals while separated from their families because of their sexual orientation. We hope that as we stand with the President today on his goal for a health care bill (and his original goal for a public option), that he understands that health care reform is not just about insurance or about money, but about families who in times of crisis should not be separated from each other under any circumstance. When “family” is defined in the health care legislation the LGBT community must be included. Furthermore, Domestic partners and same sex married couples must be able to share health benefits without the current federal income tax burden on their families. Heterosexual families are not taxed on their shared benefits.

We can not forget our transgender friends and family whose needs are almost always left on the cutting room floor. It is all too common for transgender citizens to be denied health care simply because of who they are. Hospitals refuse their admittance, doctors refuse their care, and health insurance policies explicitly deny so-called “transgender care”. We request a strong public option that does not discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.  A public option is particularly important for our transgender community members because they are fired without recourse and regularly denied work altogether.  Most health insurance policies are provided by employers so if citizens can not find work they need a public option.

We understand the political significance of the health care reform bill.  Conservatives will stop at nothing to smear progressive attempts to reform.  We would like to request that as you construct your spin job you leave our families out of it. It will be easy for you to scare people by presenting our families and our issues. You are well practiced. There have already been attempts to scare people away from health care reform because of our inclusion in some drafts. Instead of creating even more fear about our community it would serve us all if you instead debated the structural content of the bills on a broader honest landscape. And if the conservatives remain steadfast in bullying the LGBT community, I hope the progressive community embraces our humanity and refuses not buckle under the pressure.  No human should be left behind in what could be the most monumental health care reform bill of this century.  The time for outlandish lies from the right is over — the time for swift action from progressives is now.