Queering Reproductive Justice

  Megan Lee
  Blogger Scholar, reporting on Creating Change, Minneapolis 2011

  Queering Reproductive Justice: The Intersection of Reproductive Health and LGBTQ Liberation
Veronica Bayetti Flores, Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas

Reproductive justice is the profound idea that everyone, regardless of race, age, ability, national origin, socio-economic status, spirituality, sexuality, language, gender identity and/or expression, has equal rights and access to reproductive health services in order to make informed decisions about their health, if/when/how they decide to have a family, and to parent children if they choose to do so. Wow. Doesn’t this seem like an obvious right that we should all have access to? Reproductive justice is not a solidarity issue for LGBTQ individuals; it is OUR issue.

The importance of recognizing the intersections of reproductive justice with the LGBTQ community.

If a transman needs a pap smear, what does he do? Will his insurance cover this preventative care (an effective means of preventing cervical cancer) if he is listed as “male” on his insurance? And if he is diagnosed with cervical cancer and needs to receive care, will his provider be able to adequately serve him? Will he even be able to find a provider that’s willing to talk to him?

I want to talk about abortion for a minute. Veronica Bayetti Flores spoke to the point that some people, even in the LGBTQ community, don’t feel like abortion is a queer issue. This is ridiculous and short-sighted and leaves out huge facets of our communities. Consider:

  • Behavior is not the same as identity. And that’s okay.
  • Bisexuals.
  • Research has shown that LGBQ youth are at higher risks for unintended pregnancies as they work out their identities as young people.
  • Anyone with a functional uterus can get pregnant.
  • Sexual assault.
  • Even intentional pregnancies sometimes need to be terminated (example: if a pregnancy is carried out, the mother would need to be on dialysis for life).

We have got to stop separating ourselves apart and pretending that just because we, as individuals, may not have any intention of getting pregnant, abortion and pregnancy related reproductive care isn’t relevant for our community. It is. And people are dying while we try to work all this out.

This session was amazing, wrought with super important information, and frankly, I wish I could just link to the full presentation. But, in the meantime, check out the organization that the amazing presenters hail from: National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

Ultimately, this session was a huge reminder that our health is a crucial topic that we need to continue to focus on. And not just the issues relevant to ourselves as individuals, but those affecting everyone in our communities.

Reuniting our Movement with the 1963 Civil Rights Act.

 by Dean Andersen

Guest Blogger, reporting at Creating Change, Minneapolis 2011

Our movement has always been a civil rights movement, from the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis in the 1950′s to the Stonewall Riots of “69″, and the historic marches on Washington, all we have ever wanted was EQUAL CIVL RIGHTS!  Civil Rights are Human Rights and according to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights of 1948, “Human Rights are supreme and universal”  they are the Inalienable realm of personal dignity.  It is the duty of government to REPSECT and PROTECT it’s citizens and the Human Rights they are born with.  Yet in all fifty of our United States there are elected officials that show hostility to LGBT folks!

The 1964 Human Rights Act guarantees Equal citizenship based on race, color, national origin, ethnicity, religion, disability, age, Language minority, and Marital status.  It does NOT include sexual orientation, expression, or identity.

Our movement has been splintered from the unifying call for “Equal Civil Rights” to working on various partial, piece-meal rights, marriage rights, domestic partnerships, the right to serve in the military, freedom from discrimination, housing rights, etc. etc.  Working on so many fronts leaves us less unified and less committed.  It may be time to re-evaluate just what it is we want, and how we are going to get it.  What if we simply ask to get sexual and gender minorities included in the 1964 Human Rights Act which would protect LGBT folks under all federal legislation in housing, employment, legal system, public access, etc. etc.

EQUAL CIVIL RIGHTS is simple clear, and unifying.  We want the same rights afforded every other citizen in this country! No more, no less!  The freedom to be who we are is an inalienable right. We suffer harm when we are denied this most basic of rights. It’s time for our community to come back together under that banner of equal civil rights as the package, the deal, the bill that needs to be introduced guaranteeing the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace not just within our movement but for all members of our nation.

Big News! Report on the National Center for Transgender Equality Survey

Emilia Dunham, Network Program Associate

by Emilia Dunham

Program Associate, reporting at Creating Change

As you may know, we’re thrilled for the report of the largest ever national survey on transgender people. We are proud to have been involved in the development on inclusive of questions on tobacco and alcohol, but more than that, it’s great to finally have some sort of national data on transgender people at many levels. The information in this survey involves a myriad of issues and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force just released factsheets on those results. You may have seen the data on the October 2010 study but this report deals with what can be done and what this data means.

As you might imagine, there is discrimination in virtually all areas which I will share a little below.

Education: 59% bullied by teachers attempted suicide, which is ridiculous as teachers should be the ones supporting and protecting students. Some were even expelled for their gender identity.

Employment:  For those trans people who have jobs, 90% were harassed or mistreated which is such an astounding number. Many are fired, denied access to bathrooms. We experience extreme poverty with 4x more likely to earn less than $10,000.

Housing: 20% refused housing. Only half as many of us own homes as compared to general population. Many are also denied housing.

Public Accommodations: Half of trans people have been assaulted in public spaces. 1/5 denied government equal treatment.

ID Documents: 40% were harassed when presenting IDs and many are unable to update government ID records.

Health: ½ have had to educate providers just basic Trans 101. Many do not have insurance and experience discrimination. HIV, alcohol, tobacco rates are much higher in trans populations. 41% suicide rate (compared with 1.6% of general population; general population of depressed people only have 20%)

POSTIVE ASPECTS:

I’ve talked a lot about some absolutely chilling horrifying facts, but it’s important to know there are positive aspects and things we can do about these disparities. Despite high discrimination and harassment, 78% who transitioned at work felt better. Many return to school after transitioning and trans people actually have more education than the general population.

What can we do? Recommendations:

  • We all have a role to play (health providers, employers, police, general public, etc).
  • Policy changes are vital at all levels
  • Research: the data is available online for folks to analyze
  • Share the information with ourselves, our coalitions
  • Keep all areas of our society accountable in whatever you way you can!

For more information on these documents:

“Injustice at Every Turn by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) **Newly released**

National Transgender Discrimination Survey Report on health and health care by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Go to http://endtransdiscrimination.org/ for more information on this study, its uses, the data and implications.

Anti-LGBT Bias Violence and Reporting

Emilia Dunham, Network Program Associate

by Emilia Dunham

Program Associate, reporting at Creating Change workshop: National Reporting and Data-Driven Advocacy: Ending Anti-LGBTQ Violence with the NCAVP

Today I attending a workshop on a familiar subject: LGBTQ biased violence. At Northeastern, I was involved with our Campus Center on Violence Against Women, realizing how little resources and information was provided and known about LGBTQ survivors. Fortunately I was able to work with the supportive program to raise more awareness and create more support for us. After taking an LGBTQ inclusive course on family violence. However after this workshop I realized how seldom this knowledge is available. Below I want to share the reality of the picture and what can be done.

 

Reality:

  • In recent years, even with more calls to the police from LGBTQ survivors there are high rates of police misconduct (harassment) and false arrests (arresting both partners).
  • Of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, 79% were against people of color, 50% of those murdered were transgender women
  • Despite enactment of Matthew Shepard Act, there were still significant cuts to anti-violence LGBT programs
  • Law enforcement, prosecutors, general violence programs don’t work with LGBT violence programs.
  • 84% precincts reported no kinds of hate crimes at all (even race), so we shouldn’t focus on prevalence so much as whether these crimes exist
  • Coincidences of LGBT bias hate-crimes with national LGBT news (national conversation on LGBT issues like marriage)

Needs:

  • Collect more expansive and exhaustive demographic information
  • To collect different types of violence: sexual violence and pick-up violence (against sex workers)
  • Organizations are the ones doing the reporting
  • Data is the story: organizations collect quantitative and qualitative data

What can be done? (effective suggestions)

  • Use data to show need for funding to support this great work
  • Get LGBTQ inclusion in the Violence Against Woman Act grant. With that hope, LGBTQ anti-violence programs may receive more funding and allow training.
  • Legislative visits (Lobbying, protocol shifts)
  • Grants and education (statements of need, demonstrate national coalition work and services provided for funders)
  • Training and education (numbers and reports needed, present models of promising practices)
  • Promoting policy change and shifts (illustrate how policies contribute to and are sources of violence with specifics, show how increased funding can make a difference, show evidenced-based practice)
  • Community organizing (compelling statistics can be used for promotion/media, awareness-raising campaigns)

Creating Change: Chrystos Gives 1st Ever Native American Plenary Speech

Scout
Director, Network for LGBT Health Equity
Report from Creating Change 2011
Minneapolis MN
 
 
Chrystos

Some plenaries are inspiring, some are difficult, some are sobering and challenge us to really grow, and some are all. With a gathering of her fellow Native Americans, Chrystos took the stage for the latest Creating Change plenary. She tells us how this is surprisingly the first Native American plenary speech ever at this conference. She tells us of her history in San Francisco with the Daughters of Bilitis. Of the beatings, the police harassment, the concessions gender variant people would make to keep eating. She reminds us how many of us aren’t white, we are really Indo-European immigrants. She tells us how she jokes with her Native American brethren that their problem is really a lax immigration policy. She reminds us that this country is built on two fundamental tenets, the exploitation of Native Americans for land, and of Africans for labor. She talks about how she still doesn’t feel safe except among her small Gay Native American group, a group that has only 4 of the 80 founding members still living. She reminds us how the Native American communities recognize the two-spirit people, a lens that separates sexuality and gender, then adds acceptance, in a way that my indo-european mind marvels at. She tells us that Identity Politics is too small a place to stand.

I can’t really convey how funny she was, an amazing reality considering the stories she was telling.

She asks us to think critically. Reminds us that the win on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell allows us to die for a country that doesn’t give us civil rights.

Through her stories she shows us how the Native American people are still being looted by us colonizers. And she asks us to take our hands out of that bag.

And she gives us homework, to read real books. Specifically these four: The Turqoise Ledge; Conquest; Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot; Journal of an Ordinary Grief.

Chrystos leaves us with a wish, “May you find your way to the greatest of all wisdoms, as the Talmud says, kindness.”


Validation:

by Dean Andersen

Guest Blogger, reporting from Creating Change, Minneapolis 2011

In the last session I attended we discussed obstacles and opportunities when promoting healthier LGBT communities.  We had an interesting discussion about folks who are raised being told they are worth something, verse folks being raised raised being told they are worthless!  Research shows that folks who are raised being told they are worthless have a much higher tendency to make bad choices!  Humm.. go figure!  So maybe an important part of promoting health is promoting positive self-esteem.    Developing a positive self-esteem is not particularly easy if you come from a home where your sense of self-worth has been under attack for the majority of your life.   How can our community help validate folks struggling to overcome the negative effects of persecution at the hands of their own family, church, schools, etc.?

I’m interested in learning what campaigns others have done to validate LGBT youth.  Especially if these campaigns have been orchestrated across the community, and challenged existing status quo.   If you have information about such campaigns, please post a comment and include information where I and others can learn more about the campaign.   Thanks, I look forward to hearing from you.

Project H.E.A.L.T.H. (is awesome)

 Megan Lee
 Blogger Scholar

 Trailblazing for Transgender Health
Kristina Wertz, Mason Davis, Michelle Enfield

The list of things transgender people need to be healthy is extensive: medical care, insurance coverage, mental health services, substance abuse providers, gender identity specific non-discrimination laws, sexual health education and screenings, case management support, community and interpersonal supports. Oh, and in order for this to all work adequately, all of these things need to be culturally competent, resepctful, affordable, and accessible. Providing healthcare that adequately serves the transgender community is no small feat, but Project H.E.A.L.T.H. is making some significant forays into creating a better system.

Mason Davis, of Lyon Martin Health Services, explains the clinic assessment given to clinics interested in better serving transgender people in their community.

Project H.E.A.L.T.H., which stands for Harnessing Education, Advocacy, and Leadership for Transgender Health, is a trifecta of community collaboration, bringing together Lyon Martin Health Services, Transgender Law Center, and Equality California to address three primary areas: training for medical staff and clinics, education related to legal rights and responsibilies for transgender health care, and community building and collaboration. Project H.E.A.L.T.H. works with clinics either on a short-term (one or two meetings) or long-term (6 months to one year) planning and creates work plans for cultural competency, clinical competency, connections with community, and evaluation. Seriously awesome stuff.

Coming from Columbia, Missouri (and not Los Angeles or San Francisco, California, where the Project is hosted), the work is a little down the road from where my community is. But the greatest take away for me was, as Mason Davis (originally from MO) reminded us: don’t underestimate the one provider or health clinic that wants to more adequately serve transgender individuals in their communities.

I’m stoked and geared up to get back to my community and share the resources from this session. We may be just beginning to look at gender identity non-discrimination policies in Columbia and we may have a long way to go, but there are some rock stars laying a great path for us out in California.

TranShorts

 Megan Lee
 Blogger Scholar

Last night, the Trans Hospitality Suite (#1936, for those at the conference) hosted a screening of some short films by and about transgender, genderqueer, and intersex people/issues/stories from the Los Angeles Transgender Film Festival. From avant garde to hilarious (and sometimes both), the films portrayed reality and fiction with stunning clarity for the humor and beauty that weaves in and out of transgender lives.

A Korean transwoman attends a public bath with her sister. The comedic journey of Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS). A cartoon play out of the eternally irritating inquiry: “what are you (Lil Basenji?)”. A surprisingly sweet, touching, and genderific interaction in front of a restaurant bathroom. The answer to how exactly you “TransProof” your apartment. And, ultimately Queerer Than Thou, written, produced, and directed by people who are self-identified as queerer than anyone watching the film. Who is the queerest and how do we decide? Queers and peers – you’re going to want to watch this. Hilarious.

The films are brought to us in part by Reel Boi Productions and, if last night was any indication of the types of films coming out of the TG Film Fest and Reel Boi Productions, there is a whole lot of good coming down the line.

All Sorts of Sexy!

Megan Lee
 Blogger Scholar

 Mapping Your Desire
Dr. Jaime Grant, Ignacio Rivera, Jack Harrison, Amelie Zurn

Interested in getting 100 queers in the same room, attentive and ready to learn? Talk about sex. Title the session “Mapping Your Desire” and create a workshop designed to create a “life-long journey toward sexual empowerment and a more just world”, and believe me, they’ll be there. I mean, that’s why I went, right?

Desire Mapping is a tool designed to create a powerful and authentic understanding of yourself and your sexuality. As a concept, it sounds easy, but the process is surprisingly complex. As Dr. Jaime Grant explained, the most important thing in creating your sex biography is to tell the

Jaime Grant discusses plotting "points" on a Desire Map.

truth, which is harder than it might seem. Getting honest about the “points” on your map requires really opening up to your own, well, desires.

Each of the panelists opened with one of their particular Desire Map points – stories from their pasts and the ways that has created the fulfilling and honest sexual experiences they have now. From there, the audience worked through our own Desire Maps. One of the things I appreciated from the session was that all range of sexual experiences were validated and welcomed from self-identified “vanilla” to “kinky switch whore”. As Dr. Grant pointed out, even people who have had no sexual experiences can still utilize and wholly benefit from a Desire Map because no sexual activity is still a concious choice.

The take away message (beyond the idea that open, honest sexual desire is healthy, natural, and good)? Consent and mutual respect are the bedrock of healthy sexuality.

Panelists Dr. Jaime Grant, Ignacio Rivera, Jack Harrison, and Amelie Zurn listen as an audience member desribes a discovery “point” on their Desire Map.

Sodomy to Fare Evasion: Evolving LGBT Criminal Defense and Health Effects

 

 

Emilia Dunham, Network Program Associate

by Emilia Dunham

 

Program Associate, Reporting from Creating Change on “Beyond Lawrence V. Texas”

Sodomy: you may know it’s been decriminalized for the past 8 years, but across the country many LGBT people are still unnecessarily criminalized. Though it’s not technically a crime to be LGBT, LGBT people are disproportionately affected by random offenses like loitering and prostitution (real or perceived). Frankly it was humbling to realize how easy it was someone’s life to be completely ruined by reasons nearly out of their control, how privileged I am, and how many of us no idea how many issues affect our whole community.

You might not be surprised that laws in Louisianna are particularly bias against LGBT people (40% of all cases). The laws are so asinine and extreme that two charges of prostitution could land you on the sex offender list for life! With the offense you have to send postcards to pretty much everyone imaginable. The worst part is that they put a huge orange stamp on your ID so that everyone who sees it knows you are on the sex offender list. Can you imagine how terrible that would make your life?

You’d think New York City would be better, but unfortunately in some precints, 100% of all loitering offenses involve LGBT people. Even fare evasion charges are largely against LGBTQ poor people. NY laws also enforce that trying to talk with strangers, loitering and even carrying condoms indicate an intent to prostitute which is enough to be arrested. As a result, many sex workers and homeless LGBTQ refuse to take condoms despite understanding of health concerns.

So what does this have to do with health? Folks who are dispropriately targetted by these crimes have a very difficult time accessing health insurance through any sort of public aid because of their charges. Additionally, it’s incredibly difficult and often impossible to clear their records, placing a barrier to jobs with health insurance. Thus, when we think about health disparities in our communities and issues of access to care, we should be thinking of  the broader picture. We should do more to include those communities that are most affected by this profiling in our public health research, advocacy, work: low-socio-economic, trans women, feminine gay men and gender non-conforming people. Clearly when folks are refusing to carry condoms because of policy, we should be focusing on deeper avenues of public health work.