Banned or Not, Avoiding These Words is a Concern

[Originally posted to the GLMA Nursing Section blog on 1/4/18.]

In the wake of the article in the Washington Post on December 15 stating that the current administration has banned the use of specific words in budget documents from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including, “transgender,” “fetus,” and “evidence-based,” several organizations, including GLMA, have made statements opposing this.

From GLMA: “This past year, the Trump administration has continually demonstrated that it is no ally of the transgender community, nor the entire LGBTQ community, by issuing policy to ban transgender individuals in the military, rescinding protection guidelines for transgender students in schools, eliminating gender identity questions from surveys of older Americans, and fighting gender-identity non-discrimination regulations in healthcare. This directive is yet another attack on transgender individuals.”

From the ANA: “From the very first days of Florence Nightingale’s work, nurses have relied on evidence-based practice to provide quality care. News stories indicating that the Administration told the CDC not to use words including “diverse,” “vulnerable,” and “evidence-based,” have sparked justifiable concern.”

In the Washington Post report, the CDC is said to have been given alternative phrases, as follow:

In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.

This alternative is even more alarming for LGBTQ issues, since this “alternative” leaves wide open the ability of certain communities that do not wish to acknowledge LGBTQ existence, much less rights, to have the right to deny the science and evidence that points to serious disparities in our communities.

The CDC, while having no visible statement on the controversy on their own website, is disputing the claims in the original article.  Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the CDC, has issued several tweets on the theme that “There are no banned words.”  She also issued a statement to news outlets to this effect.  The Washington Post has acknowledged this statement in a follow-up editorial, but notes that even if this is an internal guidance as opposed to an external mandate it is still a concern, just a slightly different concern.

Whether this list of words to avoid came from the administration as a directive or from within the CDC as guidance to help get the current administration and/or congress on board with their budget, the net effect is the same: to minimize and potentially erase the needs of at-risk groups, whether they be deemed vulnerable, eligible for entitlements, transgender, etc.  Assurances that “HHS will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans” are sufficiently broad and vague as to not be reassuring at all.  As the GLMA statement says, “nothing short of a clear, strong statement [that the CDC will continue to use science-based approaches to improve the health and well-being of the full diversity of the American people, including transgender individuals] will fully absolve any doubts regarding the inclusion of transgender people in the communities that are served under the mission of the CDC.”

As we watch and wait to see what the ultimate outcome will be, the nurses of the GLMA Nursing Section remain committed to evidence- and science-based care of the full diversity of our patients, from the time they are a fetus until the end of life, including those who are vulnerable, who depend upon entitlements, and particularly those who are transgender.

Posted in GLMA Nursing, Join the discussion, News, Political Process, Public Policy, Transgender Health | Leave a comment

Public Perceptions of Sexual Violence and the LGBT Community

Warning: This post contains sensitive content related to sexual violence.

2017 has been a year of renewed attention to sexuality, but in a different context than usual. From public protesting of sexual harassment at the Golden Globes to the resurgence of the #MeToo movement, people of all genders and sexual orientations have banded together to reclaim their sexual rights and fight against injustices in the face of political oppression. In fact, the problem of sexual violence has garnered so much attention that Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” is the Silence Breakers– those individuals that, while unique, all shared a common story of sexual harassment or abuse. We know from research that sexual violence is an especially pertinent problem for sexual and gender minority persons, who are victimized at similar or higher rates than heterosexual counterparts. But what happens when LGBT identities are brought into the conversation as perpetrators?

When Kevin Spacey was accused of harassing young men, he took the opportunity not only to apologize, but also to publicly identify as a gay man. Some outspoken LGBT figures have claimed that this admission was little more than an attempt to “hide under the rainbow” instead of taking responsibility. Now we are forced to wonder how that reflects on our communities. As identities that have historically (and inaccurately!) been stereotyped as focused on sex, LGBT identities have often been marginalized and reduced to erroneous and demeaning stereotypes. However, we can also recognize the tension between avoiding this stereotype and the fact that sexual assault is, has been, and will likely continue to be a problem within the LGBT community. Given this tension, are LGBT individuals now portrayed in an even worse light when someone accused of sexual harassment apologizes and self-identifies in the same breath?

What we can take from this movement, in the midst of all the negative and “fake” news floating around these days, is that these important issues are being discussed. People of all genders and sexual orientations are standing up for their rights, sexual and otherwise. But here at GLMA, we’re interested in linking these discussions to what we know- so we’d like to put out a call to our readers. Do you know of research linking these ideas? How might these misguided ideas of identity and behavior be inaccurately reflected in future policy and stereotype reinforcement? What are your opinions, and how can we move forward in a positive and non-re-traumatizing manner?

For anyone who needs it, resources to LGBT friendly sexual violence resources.

Posted in Join the discussion | Leave a comment

LGBTQ individuals embark on important political careers in the U.S.

Recent  U.S. elections (state, regional and local) resulted in a record-breaking number of history-making results – women, people of color, and LGBTQ people winning in unlikely places!  Just a few days before these elections hardly anyone would have predicted the

Protest Trans Military Ban, White House, Washington, DC USA

Danica Roem*

kinds of victories that happened, but they happened!  This inspired the GLMA Nursing Website Team to document LGBTQ election victories in places all over the globe, with links to more information about the people in the “Resources” section on the GLMA Nursing website. We know it is far from complete – we want to eventually include LGBTQ elected officials already in office at any level – from local school board, to city councils and mayors, to state legislatures.  If you know of someone we have not yet listed, please let us know.

Here is our list so far – from the November 7th and November 14, 2017 elections:

 

Allison Ikley-Freeman – Oklahoma State Senate (Elected November 14, 2017)

Andrea Jenkins – Minneapolis City Council (Elected November 7, 2017)

Danica Roem –  Virginia House of Delegates (Elected November 7, 2017)

Jenny Durkan. – Seattle, Washington Mayor (Elected November 7, 2017)

Lisa Middleton – Palm Springs, California, City Council (Elected November 7, 2017)

Tyler Titus – Erie, Pennsylvania School Board (Elected November 7, 2017)

Posted in Join the discussion | Leave a comment

LGBTQ Communities – Open Enrollment for the ACA Underway

Today is the start of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act coverage for medical care in the U.S., and in the face of so many things happening in our country to roll back protections and rights for our LGBTQ communities, this is a prime opportunity to take positive action. The short video below summarizes why the ACA is so important to our communities. The efforts to weaken and destroy this important step toward assuring access to basic healthcare for all particularly hurt LGBTQ people and families.

BUT the ACA is still the law of the land, and one way to fight back is to assure that everyone in our communities who needs this coverage actually signs up and gets it.  Nurses and other providers, and anyone concerned about healthcare for LGBTQ communities – we can all help to make sure that our friends, families, colleagues – that everyone in our circle of acquaintance – knows how to enroll now!  Open enrollment starts on November 1, and ends on December 15th (half the time in previous years) – so it is vital to take action now!  Here are some links with more informtion about the current status of enrollment, and what you can do now:

American Journal of Nursing Blog

Get America Covered

Out To Enroll LGBT resources for 2018 enrollment

Posted in Join the discussion | Leave a comment

Alphabet soup, anyone?

As much progress as we, as a western society, have made in understanding gender and sexuality, the fact remains that these complex constructs still perplex even the most informed among us! This is brought to the surface in a vivid account by Dawn Moonbisexual flag titled “How Queerness Erased Bisexuality”  In this article Dawn recounts the challenges lurking under the surface over the years working as a queer activist. Her explanation of “Q” is one of the best I have seen:

To me, as a queer activist and young scholar in the early 1990s, the term queer seemed to capture it all — the political urgency of combating heterosexism, my feeling and knowledge that the binaries of gender and sexual orientation were created through forced conformity and repression, the indeterminateness of my own experiences of gender and sexual attraction.

But the message of her article focuses on the many ways in which bisexuality is erased in the contexts of even our most dedicated LGBTQ spaces where sexual and gender diversity are valued.  Drawing on her own experience of feeling compelled to hide her bisexual identity for fear of being relegated to an “outsider” space in that even the most radical queer theorists and activists tended to imply bisexuality as being pretty much “straight.”  The fact remains that the prevailing ideas of L, G, and T remain anchored in a realm of gender and sex binaries of male or female.  Queer theory and activism has aimed to dismantle and problematize these binaries, but have failed so far to deal with  “inbetween-ness” possibilities and complexities.  Dawn described how she came to feel compelled to tell her story, concluding that:

The alphabet soup acknowledges all the people who are harmed by a rigid gender binary, but queer politics is just beginning to open up to the vast ranges of human possibility. 

I highly recommend reading Dawn’s story – it raises important issues for all of us!

Posted in Bisexuality, Coming out, Join the discussion, Queer History | Tagged | Leave a comment