Queer Birthing Practices and Feminist Phenomenology

Having spent much of my clinical practice as a perinatal nurse, working in the US and Canada, and being a member of the LGBTQ community, it is not surprising that one of my great passions as an educator and researcher is in the area of queer birthing practices.  In particular, my scholarship has largely explored phenomenological and feminist questions that address the taken-for-granted practices of nurses and primary care providers in their relationships with women, where gender and queer practices intersect in the context of birth.

Despite health care changes to diversity initiatives and cultural competency programs, that provide more inclusive definitions of culture beyond ethnicity and race, in addition to the relevance of cultural humility and safety approaches that have educated nurses on the limitations of their own knowledge and sense of privilege (Goldberg, 2014), there continues to be a lack of understanding in how to work equitably across difference in birthing contexts with queer women, where the standard(s) for treatment have been historically and institutionally grounded in a sociocultural privileging of heterosexuality (Goldberg, 2009). Insofar as birthing posits heterosexuality as taken-for-granted, the historical narrative of birth continues to reinstate discriminatory patterns of oppression. As such, relationships outside of the assigned birthing norms are often described as “other,” independent of best practice guidelines developed to support nurses and other primary care providers in their commitment to the provision of equitable care.


We use feminist phenomenology to frame the research we do and to address queer birthing questions in the context of health care, and specifically nursing practice. While this is not a methodology given primacy in healthcare research, it nevertheless provides a robust framework for addressing issues of power and privilege in relation to perinatal provider practices and their impact on affirming and/or diminishing lived space across difference. In particular, this methodology has been useful in our work, insofar as it provides a means for articulating the complexities of birthing within health care systems and structures pervasive with heteronormative practices that negatively influence and potentially harm queer women’s birthing trajectories. To read more about queer birth and/or feminist phenomenology, the following may provide insight into these important areas for nursing practice, research and education:

Article: Equitable Health by Lisa Goldberg

Feminist Phenomenology and Medicine

Queer Birthing Relationships web site

On Female Body Experience

Posted in Best practices, Research methods | Leave a comment

Just Published! “Defusing Bigotry at the Bedside” by Fidelindo Lim and Daniel Brian Borski


Posted today on the GLMA Nursing blog – an article addressing a neglected part of social stigma: patient homophobia and racism toward nurses.

Originally posted on GLMA Nursing:

Our GLMA Nursing Colleague, Fidel Lim, just shared news of this, his latest article co-authored by one of his students (now graduated)!  This year Fidel will not be able to join us for the nursing summit, but he remains actively involved in the Education workgroup.  This article discusses the very difficult situation of patient verbal homophobic or racist assaults toward nurses, creating a real challenge for the nurse who is morally obligated to continue to provide the best quality of care.

As they note, even though society in general is shifting in the direction of greater acceptance of diversity, prejudice and incivility still exist, and having good support systems in place for nurses to deal constructively with the situation is an essential part of a positive workplace environment.  In addition, collective action by organized nursing groups lends strength to all efforts to overcome prejudice and stigma.  As they state:


View original 260 more words

Posted in Join the discussion | 1 Comment

Introducing Lisa Goldberg – Joining the Lavender Health Blogging Team!

We are delighted to have Lisa Goldberg to our team of bloggers for LavenderHealth.org!  Lisa is an Associate Professor and Caritas Coach in the School of Nursing, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS. Her educational and research scholarship builds on her clinical expertise as a perinatal nurse and uses innovative feminist and queer phenomenological lisa-goldberg1methodologies to examine the taken-for-granted and relational practices of nurses, primary care providers, and women in contexts of birth (and beyond) against the institutional landscape of gender, power, and heteronormativity. More recently, having completed the Caritas Coach Education Program through the Watson Caring Science Institute (WCSI), her scholarship has integrated new strategies for more deeply understanding LGBTQ health in relation to its systemic invisibility within curricula and nursing education more broadly. To see more of Dr. Goldberg’s scholarship, visit the following link to her home page at Dalhousie University: (http://www.dal.ca/faculty/healthprofessions/nursing/faculty-staff/faculty/lisa-goldberg.html) or her most recent research with colleagues related to queer birthing practices in rural Nova Scotia: (http://lgbtqbirthing.weebly.com).

Welcome, Lisa!  We look forward to hearing more from you in the weeks ahead!



Posted in Join the discussion | Leave a comment

Heading down the right path toward LGBT health equality

rainbow-path.jpg~originalIt is no secret that LGBTQ topics are almost nonexistent in nursing school curricula. Although there is limited data to back up this claim, one recent study found that nursing students are exposed to approximately two hours of instruction related to LGBTQ health (Lim, Johnson, & Eliason, 2015). There are many reasons for the scarcity of LGBTQ content in curricula, such as no mandates from the accrediting bodies, lack of LGBTQ content in textbooks, and lack of knowledge and awareness among nursing faculty.

After co-authoring the above referenced article with Drs. Lim and Eliason, I was feeling pretty dismal about the lack of LGBT topics in nursing school curriculum. But something else happened… I started becoming more perceptive of the LGBT work that was happening around me. For example, a heterosexual cisgender colleague of mine who worked in a neighboring institution had developed a simulation scenario that allowed nursing students to practice caring for a transgender patient. That same colleague also approached her university’s provost to champion for the inclusion of LGBT topics throughout the nursing school’s undergraduate curriculum. Her request was successful and received a small grant to test the new content. Just after learning about the work of my colleague, I heard that a group of senior-level BSN students at my own institution was spearheading a project to increase LGBT knowledge among their student peers. They developed a 13-minute video titled, “LGBTQ Communication and Cultural Awareness for Nursing Students.” They got permission from an instructor to show the video to 35 junior-level nursing students. They administered a pre- and post-test to the students and found that the video was markedly effective at improving knowledge about LGBT health. I am now at a new institution and have already identified work being done by colleagues and students to improve LGBT health.

Over the past four years, I have taken undergraduate nursing students to work with the most vulnerable communities, such as the homeless, refugees from war torn countries, and veterans battling mental illness and addiction. I always told my students to look for the positives in the communities. Even though I have preached the “half glass full” attitude to my students, I tend to forget to do that in my own work. Moreover, like many other people in academia and health care, I spend so much time working in my “silo” that I forget to look at the great things people are doing around me. I am learning that if I take a walk outside the confines of my office and listen to what other people are doing, I am pleasantly surprised by the work others are doing to improve LGBT health. It reminds me that we are collectively heading down the right path!

Posted in Join the discussion | 8 Comments

Landmark longterm study underway on LGBT health

A large study began this past June to gather data from thousands of LGBT individuals in the U.S. using an Apple app.  The study originates from the University of California-San Francisco, the Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality, or PRIDE, Study is a two-part longitudinal study that could impact the way researchers and educators understand, treat and teach about LGBT health.

If you are interested in participating, please do!  I just signed up and started the process!  the study will last 6 to 9 months, and they estimate that the time commitment is about 15 minutes per week!  You participate using the mobile app!  The consent process is clear and easy to understand, and there is no shortage of detailed information about the study and the people who are conducting the research.  One thing I like is that you can follow basic information about the study as you go – for example, how many people are participating.  Today there are over 14,000 participants!

To learn more, go to http://www.pridestudy.org/.  Check it out!

Posted in Join the discussion | 1 Comment

LGBTQ on Twitter!

There are heaps of ways to tune in to what’s hot and happening in the LGBTQ world – if you take advantage of Twitter!  If you are already a Twitter tweeter, or want to scan for LGBTQ news from a variety of sources, or are interested in finding good LGBTQ Tweets to follow, just enter #LGBT (hashtag LGBT)! If you add more letters (LGBTQ, LGBQI) you will get different results, all very timely and interesting! Whatever hashtag you prefer, you will you will pick up tweets from the most active LGBT groups – GLAAD, The Advocate, Freedom to Marry, It Gets Better, and many more.  In addition, if any mainstream group is doing something important for our communities, you will find it here quickly and easily!  This morning, the U.S. Department of State is coming up near the top of the list with news of the first UN Security Council on LGBT rights!

If you are interested in following any of your favorite LGBTQ advocacy groups, once you see their tweets from your hashtag search, you will see their twitter identity, and can easily follow those you find most interesting!  Don’t forget to follow LavenderHealth!  Our twitter identity is @LavHealthOrg – check us out on Twitter!

What are your favorite groups to follow?  And hints for hashtags?  Leave us your ideas in the comments below – we would love to hear from you!

But before you leave, today at the top of my #LGBT search is the NOH8 Campaign, pointing to John Oliver’s fabulous segment on LGBT discrimination!  I am posting the video here!

Posted in Helpful Hints, Join the discussion, LGBTQ rights, News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

John-Manuel Andriote on Gay Men’s Resilience

As we’ve written before, the capacity to bend in life’s storms without breaking is an important virtue, which is cultivated not by coddling a “cloistered virtue” but by testing and using these psychic “muscles,” is essential to mental and physical wellness. Also known as resilience, this capacity is a characteristic of queer older adults who have experienced many losses, struggles and insults, as documented by the Institute of Medicine.

Now journalist and author John-Manuel Andriote is undertaking to chronicle and translate the history and science of sexual minority men’s resilience in a book contracted to Rowman and Littlefield. With the working title Sacred Band: How Building Resilient Gay Men Saves Lives and Strengthens Society the book, according to Andriote, “will be the first and only ‘post-AIDS’ commercial book to draw on emergent research and the real-life stories of gay men–including my own–to present a bold and inspiring message: Gay men have a powerful source of health, resilience, strength, and pride available to us by claiming for ourselves what I call ‘gay America’s heroic legacy.'”

Andriote has previously written Victory Deferred: How AIDS Changed Gay Life in America. As he recalls, “‘Larry Kramer, our best-known AIDS activist, told me in an interview, ‘Singlehandedly, we changed the image of gay people from limp-wristed fairies to guerilla warriors.’ Coming out of my experience as a journalist reporting on AIDS for so long, and as someone who found out in 2005 that I am HIV-positive, I’m extremely interested in the subject of resilience.”

His hopes are that many audience will find the book useful: “Parents, pastors, teachers and counselors will learn how they can assist gay boys to grow into healthy gay men. College professors and their students will find a showcase of emergent research on gay men’s health that is so new it hasn’t until now made its way out of scientific journals into a commercial book.”

In addition, he envisions the book’s usefulness in HIV/AIDS education as “a valuable resource for HIV educators and policymakers, offering in one volume the most up-to-date thinking about how best to protect gay men’s health–and avoid HIV–through what are called ‘strength-based’ or ‘resilience-based’ interventions. In the book I’ll examine the connections between resilience and our physical and mental health.”

As a freelance writer working with a small advance on royalties from the publisher, Andriote is seeking the support of gay communities through crowd-sourcing funding: https://pubslush.com/project/2041

Posted in Education, HIV/AIDS, LGBT Health | 1 Comment

Documentary – “How We Got Gay”

Everyone is still marveling at the rapid emergence of gay rights in the past several years – a change that is, in some ways, a rapid evolution.  But in fact, it is a shift that has a deep and incredible history.  Earlier this year an excellent documentary was posted on YouTube that tells the amazing history of how gay men and women in the U.S. and Canada went from being the ultimate outsiders to occupying the halls of power.  It is well worth taking the 45 minutes to watch!  Watch it now and share it with your friends and family.  After you see it, we welcome your comments and discussion of the film here!

Posted in Affordable Care Act, Queer History, Resources | Leave a comment

Looking for an LGBTQ-friendly college?

LGBTQ people who are making plans for undergraduate or graduate study have the extra challenge of wondering what campuses will be the most welcoming, if not the least hostile.  It is stressful enough to select a place that provides the major you want, and the best faculty to work with, and even now most schools do not volunteer information about ways they are meeting the needs of LGBTQ students.  We recently learned of a resource to help – a web-based project to help LGBTQ students understand how many campuses are helping to make the college experience more welcoming and supportive – LGBTQ Friendly Colleges and Student Resources

The guide addresses how to create a safe environment on campus, suggestions for an LGBTQ inclusive curriculum, and a list of LGBTQ student organizations that are now found on many campuses.  Check out what they have to offer, and to explore resources you can use to improve places where you are already involved!


Posted in Activism, Curriculum, Education, Welcoming Environment | 2 Comments

2015 GLMA Conference and Nursing Summit – Register Now for Early-Bird Rates!

The 2015 GLMA Conference and Nursing Summit will be held in Portland, Oregon from September 24-26, 2015!  But what you need to pay attention to now is the deadline for the early-bird registration – which is coming up in two days – on July 24th!

The GLMA conference is always a fabulous event for all LGBTQ healthcare providers and our allies – not only does the conference provide exceptional LGBTQ-focused educational programing, it is the only place where social networking with other LGBTQ providers from all disciplines!  The annual Nursing Summit, which once again kicks off the conference for nurses, is a one-of-a-kind event, where nurses work together to improve LGBTQ content in nursing education, plan implementation of LGBTQ nursing research, and improved care improved care for LGBTQ patients in practice.

If there is any way for you to be there – register today and take advantage of the early-bird rates!


Posted in Conferences, GLMA - Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, GLMA Nursing | Leave a comment