As I was tabling on the commons for LGBT Health Awareness, I looked at the board of information that I had looked up and instantly found myself wanting to know more. Though I am bisexual, I still find myself not knowing all of things that go into health care for the LGBT community. As a member of this community and also being an ally, I feel that it is important to know about the health issues that affect this group of people.
One of the main issues is ignorance, and I don’t mean that in a rude way, I mean people just don’t know certain things. For example, a person that I work with said she didn’t know what a dental dam was until she started working for the program. Her, being heterosexual, didn’t think she needed to know more then using a condom, but I’m glad that she knows that there are other forms of safer sex products besides a condom. A, dental dam like a condom, is a barrier method. It is a thin, square piece of rubber which is placed over the labia or anus during oral-vaginal or oral-anal intercourse.
For those who are allergic to latex, they come in silicone and also come in many different flavors. Most of the time when people discuss safer sex, there is always this image of a lecturer putting a condom on a banana which tends to heteronormative, and I’m just thinking to myself WHAT ABOUT THE LESBIANS(or other groups of women who have sexual intercourse with women)? I feel like when people hand out safer sex materials, you have the condoms, the lube, and a packet showing how to put the condom on, but that’s it. This is one of the main problems; women are not provided with these safer sex items that may put them at a higher risk for infection.
Beyond this it can be difficult for LGBT individuals to talk to their health care provider about their identity. Health care providers may not be trained to handle cases in which their patients are LGBT. So the one person who you depend on to help you maintain your health is not really a person you can rely on when it comes to your sexuality or gender identity, because you’re not heterosexual or cisgender. This is something that really gets to me and something I can’t get my mind around, shouldn’t these health care professionals be well versed in knowledgeable about this community. You get paid to serve us, help us, so health care professionals learn about us! According to a recent national survey conducted by Harris Interactive nearly one in four gay and lesbian adults lack health insurance and rates of not having insurance are even higher for bisexual and transgender people.
Though this is true, there are some progressive notions going on right now, that I would like to bring up!
Within Human Health Services, a working group on LGBT health has been established to ensure that the department’s policy work is inclusive to the population’s special health care needs as well as to increase the overall access to health care for LGBT Americans.
I hope that this has increased your awareness of LGBT health.
P.S. Other safer sex items such as dental dams aren’t not specifically geared towards same sex couples, straight couples can use these as well, especially when it comes to engaging in oral sex. Everyone be safe, be healthy!