Benson & Hedges Targets LGBTT Communities in Puerto Rico

Juan Carlos Photo

 

Juan Carlos Vega, MLS

Blogging for the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico, National Latino Alliance Pro Health Equity and the Network for LGBT Health Equity

 

 

This is bad! As health professionals, community prevention programs, and the Puerto Rico Department of Health strive to reduce tobacco use prevalence among island inhabitants, we have busted Benson & Hedges, twice, targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and transexual (LGBTT) communities in San Juan area’s LGBTT clubs. Cute girls, in tight outfits, look to scan your driver’s license in order to continue to help folks initiate or facilitate access to low price cigarettes. If you fill out the survey that they present at these bars and allow them to scan your id, you can purchase a pack of Benson & Hedges from the bar at a huge discount. No wonder LGBTT smoking prevalence is two to three times higher than that of the general population.

Health Authorities Warn: Smoking Kills

Health Authorities Warn: Smoking Kills

Twice, I have been with gay guys who are trying to quit smoking for health and financial reasons and they have been accosted by such tobacco industry tactics. One time, we bought the cigarettes, the second time we resisted. Yes, I was included. After nine years of being smoke free, I have become an occasional social smoker for the past 3-4 years. It is so nasty, the smoke inhalation, the after taste, yet, after a few drinks, I see myself taking a “hit” or two from my friends’ cigarettes. I don’t blame the industry for my personal unhealthy choices, but they sure don’t help us quit for good!  Access to cheap smokes at bars should not be allowed! 

Last weekend, was the second consecutive month, we have seen this predatory practice in our local LGBTT bars. It was contrasting to see as we were distributing promotional flyers for the  3rd LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico, April 4th and 5th at the School of Nursing of the Medical Science Campus of the University of Puerto Rico, free of cost for the general public and $45.00 fee for Continuing Education for Physicians and Nurses. Against the luring of the tobacco industry to get us to smoke again, the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTT Healthefforts continue to fight the dangers of tobacco use with the support ofLegacy Foundation, the Network for LGBT Health Equity, theComprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Puerto Rico, and the local tobacco free coalition. For more information, on how tobacco affects the health of LGBTT communities, come to the 3rd LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico: Tendencies Towards Health EquityApril 4th and 5th in San Juan. Come by, our Summit is cheaper than the pack of cigarettes sold those nights and you will get great information, make new friends and learn how to take better care of yourselves!

spanish tobacco

Juan Carlos Vega shows a tobacco cessation material in Spanish “Tobacco is a murderer that does not discriminate”

APPLY NOW FOR NETWORK STEERING COMMITTEE POSITIONS!

 
 
The Network for LGBT Health Equity
 The time has come: Apply to be a part of our dynamic Steering Committee!
Applications due by April 30th, 2014
 
 
 

 

The Network for LGBT Health Equity is now accepting applications to fill four positions on its 13 member Steering Committee!

The purpose of the committee is to provide multidisciplinary input and guidance on activities for the Network. Members will participate by sharing information regarding tobacco and other LGBT health disparity opportunities, providing input on National Network efforts, and considering strategic policy enhancements that further LGBT health disparity work at their organizations.

Responsibilities:

  •  Attend regularly scheduled phone meetings (generally once or twice a month maximum)
  • Attend one in-person meetings per year (paid for by the Network)
  • Review and give feedback on policy, direction, and strategic planning of Network Activities
  • Strategize effective ways to increase Network visibility, organizational outreach, and membership
  • Identify and increase the engagement of subgroups within the LGBT community (i.e., youth, rural, elder, etc)
  • Support and enhance the goals and objectives of the Network in a changing environment
  • Engage agency/coalition groups on pertinent issues/opportunities and report back to the Committee

If you are interested in applying for the committee, the following is required (please send CV/Resume and Statement of Interest to healthequity@lgbtcenters.org):IDAHOT-605x305

The Youth/Young Adult Nomination process is slightly different. 

If you are  between 18-24 years old and would like to apply to be on the committee, click here to fill out the Youth/Young Adult Steering Committee Application form online. Youth/young adults can also apply through the general nominations process (candidacy will not be affected by either application) and follow the same guidelines by submitting the following:

All Nominations must be submitted on or before Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 by 4PM EST

To: healthequity@lgbtcenters.org Subject: Steering Committee Nomination

You will receive a confirmation email within 2 working days of your email nomination. If you do not receive a confirmation email within 2 working days, please resend and call 954.765.6024 to ensure delivery. If you are submitting a nomination on the due date and have not received a confirmation by 4:30PM EST please call 954.765.6024 before 5PM EST to confirm delivery. Nominations received after 04/30/2014 at 4PM EST will not be accepted.
We look forward to reviewing your applications. Please feel free to contact us with any questions!
 
Thank you,
Network Steering Committee and Staff

Strategic Planning and Expanding Priorities

By: Meredith Kamradt
Guest Blogger
Reporting from: The 8th National LGBT Health Equity Summit (Kansas City, MO)

Attending my first LGBT Healthy Equity Summit today was incredibly inspirational, thought-provoking, and also tiring.  Who knew that sitting for 8+ hours could be so exhausting!?  My hands were sore from jotting down notes and clapping, and my cheeks felt stretched from smiling.

Of course it was all worth it!  I heard so many stories of successful advocacy efforts – especially those states and localities working to institutionalize LGBT data collection efforts.  I even met colleagues in Puerto Rico working entirely without funding, yet who have managed to make farther strides in data collection and tobacco abolition than many of us with far more funding and person-power.  Before taking part in all of these discussions, however, we had the opportunity to hear about the future of the Network from the Chair of the Steering Committee, William Furmanski.

He didn’t bore us, and I won’t bore you either, because I certainly know that strategic planning and logic models can put the best of us asleep.  Overall, William explained that the Network is looking to expand their goals outside of LGBT tobacco control to include general healthy active living.  This reflects a shift in the broader world of public health, and it is necessary to keep up with these changes, as well as to simply continue to serve our LGBT communities in all of the important health issues.

As more and more inclusive data collection practices build the evidence of more widespread health disparities, I feel that the strategic planning of the Network will certainly pay off.  It also excites me to think of the potential for collaboration between any number of health organizations, both LGBT-specific and not, who work on topics like access to fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy communities, and primary prevention of chronic disease.  With such growth in the future, I’ll have another important reason to continue to return to the Summit, and hopefully so will many others!

Tomorrow I’ll be at the first day of the National Conference on Tobacco or Health, and I’ll continue to write about  my experiences at the LGBT Health Equity Summit, as well as sessions from the National Conference that are pertinent to this blog, for the next few days.  And of course, I cannot thank the Network for LGBT Health Equity enough for the scholarship that allowed me to attend today’s summit!

March Updates from the Network

March has been yet another busy month for the Network. We are pleased to announce the launch of two major projects from the Network. First, Joseph Lee of our Steering Committee is helping us launch MPOWERED best and promising 

practices review, an effort to collect lessons learned in the field of LGBT Tobacco Control. The final document will be launched at our Summit, the 8th National LGBT Health Equity Summit, in Kansas City this August. Second, at long last the Network is pleased to announce the launch of our new website www.lgbthealthequity.org. Although we are still working on the last small details, we are very pleased to have this new resource up and running for the field.

Our staff was active this month in a few different events. First, Scout attended the FDA Research Summit. At it we got one win from a prior action alert – FDA agreed to collect at least LGB (not yet T) data on their new historic NIH tobacco research project. He recaps the important aspects of the summit here: FDA Tobacco Research Meeting – Upshot & Action Needed Now!

Pakou, Sarah, and Ditra giving us the inside line

He also attended the TAPP-INTO convening of state disparity networks in Minnesota (we have a long term contract to provide tech assist to these networks). See one of the key lessons from their sustainability training here: What do funders want? Gustavo was also out training, he presented on making practices welcoming to LGBT patients at the first ever Sharing Best Practices in GLBT Health training sponsored by the Sylvie Ratelle Prevention and Training Center of Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Most recently, staff attended the FDA Tobacco Policy Center disparities listening session hosted by our friends at Legacy, with the sister tobacco control networks and partners across the country. The next day, Legacy convened the disparity groups to strategize together. Watch to see us roll out more coordinated menthol advocacy in the near future, and read about the other policy priorities here: Disparity Networks Plus.

There have been some major events this month that the Network has been promoting. First, partnering with our friends at Shift MN, we celebrated Kick Butts Day. We had two great posts from MN Youth from Shift MN showcased posts on our blog; Dangerous Swagger and Breathe… Standing Up Against Corporate Tobacco. The Network has also helped promote the Coalition’s Health Awareness Week. Most notably, we have helped spread the news on two major tobacco events: the rollout of the first national tobacco education campaign and the release of the Surgeon General’s Report on youth smoking. Also this month, the Network campaigned to help one of our bloggers, e.shor, run for and ultimately win a scholarship to Netroots Nation. The network also highlighted some world tobacco news, as Brazil announced the ban of flavored cigarettes including menthol. According to a report from the National LGBTQ Youth Adult Tobacco Project, 71%33.9% of current smokers smoke menthols and an astonishing 82.6% of African American smokers smoke menthols. In addition, a disproportionate number of Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and multiracial smokers smoke menthols compared to white smokers.
of LGBT youth who smoke cigarettes smoke mentholated cigarettes. If FDA stepped up and also banned menthol in the U.S. it is likely the single most important action that could be taken to deter youth smoking. Also, we continue to highlight local projects, like this one on David Mariner’s tobacco and HIV project, and provide policy insight on our blog, like with our post on LGBT funding announcements and our heads up on things we expect to see soon from HHS.

We are very pleased to report that one of the requests we made with our Puerto Rico allies in January’s Department of Justice meetings has already come about, FBI and DOJ officials have been deployed to Puerto Rico to conduct additional listening sessions with community members with a promise of official trainings to follow. Read more about it here.

In other notes, we also got the news our PCORI application submitted a few months ago did not get funded and we are currently seeking nominations for two new Steering Committee members. Also catch our nice rundown of last year’s accomplishments here: Highlights of Network Accomplishments Over Past Year.

Finally, you know we blog a lot, and perhaps you’ve noticed we’re also trying to get more media attention to LGBT tobacco and wellness issues. We’re happy to announce a great outgrowth of both of those efforts; Scout has become an official Huffington Post blogger! Read his first two pieces New ‘Additional Feature’ for Health Insurance Finder: Same-Sex Coverage & White House Creates a Watershed Moment for LGBT Health and be sure to watch for more.

How we monitor the tobacco epidemic in LGBT communities – seeking stories

By Joseph Lee
Steering Committee Member
Monitoring Tobacco in LGBT Communities

Hi, I’m Joseph Lee, and I’m a member of the Network’s Steering Committee, and I’m representing the Network’s effort to better collect (and share) wisdom from the community.

This week, I’m asking for your help identifying projectslessons learned, and stories from your work on collecting information to document and track the tobacco epidemic in our communities.

You can see an overview of our process.

We’re seeking your stories about how this has worked for you, what worked, what you learned, and what other states and organizations should know.

We have some of this information in our resources page, but I’m certain we’re missing things.

I know about projects in/by: Baton Rouge, CA state surveys, ID, MO, National Transgender Survey, NC, NM, NY, Ohio focus groups, Oregon Pride, Portland, NYAC youth survey, Toronto, VA transgender assessment, and WV.  (Tracking industry marketing and products is a different week.)

If you have or know about* a project collecting data, surveying the community, or working on state health surveys that’s not on that list, please let me know.

Please submit stories, details, resources, etc. on this subject or e-mail them to: lgbtmpowered@gmail.com.  Or just let us know that so-and-so knows details and we’ll follow up with them.  Or check out our handy data collection page and click through it.

PS: On Friday, we will be giving out prizes to a random selection of people who’ve provided us with stories and resources by Thursday afternoon.

* Also let us know if you know someone who knows someone who might know about something related to…

PopCtr Mtg: Panel Discussion on Probability and Non-Probability Methods

Scoutby Scout
Director, Network for LGBT Health Equity
A project of The Fenway Institute in Boston, MA

SCIENCEBABBLE ALERT – This is a meeting for scientists, despite my efforts, some of this may get technical.

411 on the issue

Probability sampling = getting a group of people for your research that is statistically proven to be a random selection from the full population of interest, thus the statistics support you being able to draw conclusions for the full population based on the info from this random subgroup. (Like if 50% of your probability sample of LGBT people parachute, you can confidently say 50% of all LGBT people parachute.)

Non-probability sampling = any non-random sample of people. (Like if you do a survey at pride, it’s a non-probability sample.) Unfortunately, the statistics then do not support being able to generalize these findings to the full population, because there’s a chance bias might have snuck in. (Like, maybe pride participants aren’t as closeted as other LGBT people, so even if 50% of your sample are in LGBT parachuting clubs, you can’t say 50% of all LGBT people are in such clubs.)

Why’s this a big issue? Probability sample data is the gold-standard for drawing conclusions, but we have much less of this for LGBT people, mostly because LGBT measures aren’t included on the monster federal surveys that are the big probability studies.

Panel Members:

  • Dan Kasprzyk, Ph.D. Vice President of NORC (which I realize is so well known as one of 2 fanciest survey shops that his bio doesn’t even say what NORC stands for… so just know, NORC=surveys)
  • Melissa Clark, Ph.D. Brown University Department of Community Health
  • Margaret Rosario, Ph.D.
  • Jeffrey Parsons, PhD. Hunter University

The Panel

Dr. Kasprzyk led the panel off talking about some of his interesting experiences as part of the Institute of Medicine committee for the recent LGBT report. He emphasized that the choice of probability or non-probability might really not be as important as the reporting and impact of any well-designed study, regardless of the methods chosen. Then he moves onto talking about the federal surveys. “If the federal gov’t added LGBT measures to the American Community Survey, then allowed oversampling, that alone would allow the community to target populations, whether it’s regional, city, rural, you name it, and we’d be much better off. But we have to go beyond NHANES, you have to get on other surveys, NHIS and especially the Labor Force Survey would be very valuable.” He emphasized how important it was to get measures on these large full-probability surveys, “because otherwise you remain invisible.”

“Probability data is very important, it is the gold standard, in Washington, that’s what people are going to listen to. I think the real advancement in healthcare policy comes from really pushing hard with the federal government to have these questions on those surveys, and that point cannot be diminished. I think it’s really important that we actually stay focused on the federal government and become part of that health policy debate.” Dr. Kasprzyk

Dr. Clark followed (that’s Melissa to you and me) and led off by echoing all of Dr. Kasprzyk’s points. She says “”That’s usually how I end every talk I give about sexual minorities, I say ‘please help us get these questions added.’” She talked about her experience at Brown University and how much she’s been working to try to get the non-LGBT researchers to include LGBT measures. Through this effort, she’s managed to take one of the IOM report recommendations and institutionalize it, “Now when there’s a new study, people have to either include sexual minorities or explain why they are not.” Kudos to Melissa, let’s hope NIH follows suit!

Next up was Margaret Rosario. She warns us that while probability samples are important, most of our real explanatory data will come from non-probability samples because they are so much cheaper they have more latitude to go much deeper into issues, explore causal models, etc. For her, the bottom line is either approach can be useful, it’s often an issue of cost, if we have the chance to do the higher costs full-probability samples, excellent, if not, let’s just do excellent non-probability studies. Lastly she also weighs in on the importance of getting LGBT measures on the large surveys, “For the probability studies, please please, whatever we can do to get questions on there, do be able to identify the population as best we can, we should definitely do that.”

The panel was rounded out by Jeff Parsons. He talked about how it always seems there’s a flavor of the day at NIH for the newest rage for sampling, some of which are just never really viable in the field. “You can’t just count every 9th person who goes in the bar and pull them for the study, it doesn’t work.” Tonda Hughes from UIC echoes that sentiment, noting that the popular method, Respondent Driven Sampling, has never worked for her in samples of women.

As the discussion opens up to audience comments, there’s an interesting suggestion from Jim McNally, a director at ICPSR (the Intra-university Consortium of Political and Social Research, probably the largest data library in the country). one of the University of Michigan (ICPSR) scientists… “We recommend people work to create a small strong full probability sample and then ask the same questions you have on the federal surveys. That way you have policy strength to compare to the federal questions.”

Center for Population Research in LGBT Health Holds Annual Convening

Scoutby Scout
Director, Network for LGBT Health Equity
A project of The Fenway Institute in Boston, MA

My Non-Sampling Error Experience

Ok, I’ve fled from the very exciting Netroots Nation conference to get back to Boston because today and tomorrow mark the 3rd annual convening of one of The Fenway Institute’s other major initiatives, the Center for Population Research in LGBT Health. Not only does this mean I get to hang with some of my farflung friends for two days, not only does it mean the largest gathering of trans health researchers I’ve seen, not only does it mean I get to meet many upcoming researchers involved in the mentorship program, but right now, it’s also the biggest meeting about LGBT research that occurs each year.

I came a little late, so am jumping in as the head of one of the most prestigious survey centers in the country, Dan Kasprzyk of NORC, weighs in on issues related to LGBT sampling. (He was just talking about a non-sampling error experience.) So, I’m going to focus more on the actual content now… but just wanted to start off by giving you a little bit of context to the meeting, because this is a really cool project.

Abstract of Center for Population Research in LGBT Health Project

Previous studies have shown that sexual and gender minorities have higher prevalence of life-threatening physical and mental health conditions, experience significant barriers to health care quality and access, and face substantial threats to quality of life. Population-based research is necessary to more fully understand the causes of these disparities, so that effective responses can be developed. The proposed project’s long-term objective is to create a sustainable capacity for population studies and the translation of results into practice models for sexual and gender minorities. This 5-year effort will be conducted by the Fenway Institute, supported by the Research and Evaluation Department of Fenway Community Health (FCH), a Federally-Qualified Community Health Center. FCH provides comprehensive primary health care and mental health services annually to 11,000 neighborhood residents and students in nearby colleges and to LGBT persons, primarily from Greater Boston. Approximately 55% of patients self-identify as LGBT, reporting sexual or gender minority behavior and/or identity. The project has the following specific aims to develop the infrastructure for population research regarding the health of sexual minorities: (1) develop and support a multidisciplinary faculty to advance the study of sexual and gender minority populations, (2) create a shared research library, to include selected population-based datasets and findings from a large clinical dataset, and (3) disseminate the products of our work through the internet, a monograph, and peer-reviewed journal articles.  A team of researchers with diverse qualifications has been assembled to address these specific aims, with the assistance of a National Advisory Board of experienced population scientists and technical experts. The input and collaborative work of these researchers will lead to a common framework for multidisciplinary scholarship that advances understanding of sexual minority populations and how social, cultural, and institutional factors influence their health. This work will provide a foundation for culturally competent treatment approaches and behavior change models for sexual minorities.

Breaking News! NY Hospitals Announce Mandatory LGBT Cultural Competency Trainings

Scoutby Scout
Director, Network for LGBT Health Equity
A project of The Fenway Institute in Boston, MA
Reporting from Bellevue Hospital, NY

I’m down here in NYC and very, very happy to be at the press conference where New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation just announced mandatory LGBT cultural competency training for all their 37,000 employees! They also debuted the excellent new LGBT cultural competency video created by our friends at the The National LGBT Cancer Network. The Cancer Network created the full training to be administered to every NYC hospital employee, both the trainings and video are available for purchase or replication. (Don’t forget, the National LGBT Cancer Network is also our collaborator in our brand new LGBT Wellness NYC Marathon team.)

To have the head of all NY public hospitals reinforce that LGBT cultural competency trainings are a mandatory part of good healthcare is historic, let’s hope other cities and hospitals soon follow! See their press release here.

L to R: NYC Councilman Daniel Dromm; Liz Margolies, ED of National LGBT Cancer Network; NYC HHC President Alan D. Aviles, NYC Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, and HHC doctor.

Even HHS Secty Sebelius weighed in on what a big deal this is:

“I applaud the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation for its leadership in ensuring LGBT patients are treated with the respect and dignity we all deserve. HHC has offered a path to a fairer America and HHS looks forward to seeing other efforts from care providers from around the country toward that same goal.”

We were also live-tweeting from the event with all play-by-play tweets on @lgbttobacco and @lgbthlthequity with some major help from friends on the ground @cathyrenna and @RennaComm, so check out updates there.

The video shown features the stories of several LGBT people who have experience bias in hospitals and in the healthcare system. You may have already seen an article about these trainings in Huffington Post, and an excerpt of the powerful video can be seen here:

Let’s hope the news spreads fast and other hospital systems follow suit.

See more press about this in:

  1. Advocate Magazine: NYC Hospitals Adopt LGBT Competence Training
  2. DNAinfo.com: New Hospital Program Addresses LGBT Health Woe
  3. New York Times Blog: For Public Hospital Employees, New Training on Gay Patients
  4. NY1: New Program Attempts To Eliminate Barriers For LGBT Patients
  5. Rainbow Access Initiative: Breaking News! NY Hospitals Announce Mandatory LGBT Cultural Competency Trainings
  6. University of Arkansas for Medical Science: Center for Diversity Affairs to Sponsor LGBT Cultural Competency Strategies Webinar

Native American transgender woman lets identity shine: Trudie Jackson featured in Phoenix paper

Crossposted from the Downtown Devil by Anna Gunderson, On Thursday, April 21st, 2011

You may have seen this is in the news recently, but we wanted to showcase the great work of Trudie Jackson evidenced from this article, a new Steering Committee member of the Network.

Native American transgender woman lets identity shine

Soaking in the attention from the throng of thousands on the parade route, Trudie Jackson beams and waves at the crowd. She yells “Happy Pride!” and shows off her deep crimson Native American dress and her hair tied back with white ribbons.

She is surrounded by several other women, all wearing bright dresses. Together they create a kaleidoscope of colors so that the Indigenous Out

Trudie Jackson, Subject of this article and Network Steering Committee member

and Proud entry, a group of Native American transgender women, is one of the brightest at this year’s Pride Parade.

After the parade was over, I meet Trudie at Cruisin’ 7th, a bar on Seventh Street, where she is helping with an Indian taco sale. As I approach her table, she hugs me, enthusiastically asking if I liked the parade.

Trudie, a public-service and public-policy sophomore at the College of Public Programs, learned earlier this month that she has been awarded a Udall Scholarship.

But Trudie’s current success hasn’t allowed her to forget her troubled past.

***

Growing up near the Four Corners on a small reservation, Trudie spent the first seventeen years of her life as a male. When she came to Phoenix, she began dressing and acting like a woman.

“You couldn’t be open on the reservation –- everyone knows everyone,” she says. “My parents were involved in traditional Native American events, and I didn’t want to bring shame to my family.”

Trudie began working in Phoenix as a female prostitute, where she hustled to put a roof over her head. She fell in with a clique of other prostitutes, a crowd filled with sex and drugs that consumed Trudie like a black hole for fourteen years. Ultimately, she was stabbed by another prostitute.

“It was just a street fight among trans women,” Trudie says matter-of-factly. “It’s part of the turf — you have to stand your ground.”

After being in and out of jail for several years, Trudie left for the last time in 1999. She mentions an individual she met, who had one thing to say to Trudie: “This place is not for you.”

Eleven years later, Trudie is a recipient of the Udall Scholarship, a $5,000 national grant given to eighty individuals annually, designed primarily for Native American students pursuing public-policy degrees. Through the scholarship process, Trudie met Janet Burke, associate dean for national scholarship advisement and internships at ASU.

“I encouraged her (to apply for the scholarship) just by assuring her that she brought a wonderful set of accomplishments to this application and that I felt she had as good a chance as anyone I had encountered of winning,” Burke says.

Writing the application essays, Trudie says, made her look back critically at her past. She now drives from her home in west Phoenix along the same streets she worked as a prostitute years ago.

Trudie attended Phoenix College part-time for six years, working full-time as a peer health advocate for HIV/AIDS. In 2008, she was honored by the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center for her action and leadership.

***

Soon after winning the Udall Scholarship, Trudie attended a reception for students transitioning from Phoenix College to ASU. Her father gave her some sage educational advice at the event.

“When you get your degree, no one can take it from you,” Trudie recites.

Her appreciation of education is palpable: She follows any mention of an experience she has overcome with her feeling of hope for the future. Being an older student at ASU does not faze her. “We’re all here to learn,” Trudie says.

Almost two years into the program, she is in no hurry to complete her degree.

“It took me six years at Phoenix College, I’m just hoping to finish my bachelor’s degree at ASU within five years,” Trudie explains with a slight chuckle.

Trudie found a mentor in her first-year composition teacher at ASU, Elizabeth McNeil, who is also the coordinator of the university LGBT certificate. Though Trudie has struggled in writing for the course, her perseverance has impressed McNeil.

Confronting prejudices held by other students has also been a challenge.

“There was a macho male student who called Trudie a derogatory term when I wasn’t in class,” McNeil says. “She came and talked to me about it because she has always been an advocate for herself.”  McNeil adds that Trudie did not want to cause a controversy, however, and that eventually the male student dropped the class out of academic necessity.

Trudie works full-time as a tobacco-program liaison for Native Health, an urban Native American organization, coordinating programs to prevent smoking-related injuries or deaths. She is attempting to fuse smoking and HIV/AIDS policies together, since the latter is Trudie’s passion. She also acts as a mentor for Native American transgender women — for example, she is involved with the biannual Miss Native American Transgender Arizona pageant, which will be held on Dec. 10 at Cruisin’ 7th.

***

After our interview is over, Trudie thanks me for my time with a big smile. She mentions that she needs to go back to Cruisin’ 7th for a Native American drag show.

Shortly before I leave, Trudie recalls her most memorable experience at the parade.

“I was stopped by a woman along the parade route who hugged and thanked me for my presence in the parade,” Trudie says. “Native Americans have less representation in (LGBT) community events so their appearance made her proud, she told me.”

With a new spotlight shining on her, Trudie is representing more communities than ever before.

Contact the reporter at anna.gunderson@asu.edu

In Awe of San Juan: Guest Report on 1st LGBTT Health Conference

Tom Rachal, Steering Committee Member

by Steering Committee member Tom Rachal

Reporting on the First LGBTT Health Conference in Puerto Rico

Have you ever spent an entire day attending a LGBT Health Conference and were glad you did?  Was that conference entirely in Spanish and you don’t speak the language?  Was that conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico only a few blocks from the sandy beaches?  Well, I, along with several members of the Steering Committee of The Network for LGBT Health Equity,  have just returned from such a conference and how glad I am to report it was absolutely outstanding!

The Puerto Rico Health and Tobacco Summit was attended by an overflow crowd, and they provided an excellent English interpreter for those few of us who do not speak their language. The entire program was filled by presenters who had their own Powerpoint presentations, and at no time was I ever bored by the information they provided.

Juan Carlos Vega (left) & Tom Rachal (right)

I learned many great things there but the one I find most disturbing is the following.  There are some unique problems on this beautiful isle which most of us do not face on a daily basis.  Hate crimes against LGBT people are rampant, the police don’t conduct proper investigations and many such crimes are not ever solved.  But, nonetheless, these are strong people who are determined to overcome all obstacles placed in front of them.  They will eventually win over their opposition… it is just a matter of time.

I cannot remember when I was so warmly greeted by the host organization as I was here in San Juan.  When you visit here, I am sure you will be glad you did and will dislike having to fly back home as I had to last week.

Tom Rachal