Category Archives: WSW

5 Ways Bisexual Women Can Pursue Better Healthcare

Many individuals in the LGBT community face significant issues with regard to health care. For example, bisexual women face a high risk of physical and mental health problems and have a higher likelihood of experiencing violence and addiction. Discrimination is often experienced within the healthcare system. The bisexual community is fighting this, to spread education and make quality healthcare more accessible.

There are some general guidelines that may be helpful for bisexual women who are looking for quality health care. Read on to learn the five ways bisexual women can take care of their health, even while facing exceptional challenges.

5 Ways Bisexual Women Can Pursue Better Healthcare

Be aware of risks
Bisexual women are more likely to experience addiction, smoke, have depression and have suicidal thoughts and/or attempts, compared to other groups. Bi woman are also at a higher risk for cancer than heterosexual women or lesbians and less likely to get screening. Amy André, a co-author of Bisexual Health: An Introduction said, “Research shows that bisexuals experience more discrimination, violence, and stigma than gays and lesbians.” She believes that the fact that bisexuals have the worst health is directly linked to the violence, stigma and discrimination.

Seek quality health care
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to assume that every doctor is able to cater to the unique needs of LGBT patients. It is easier in urban areas, but still more difficult to find a provider that doesn’t group bisexual patients with gay or straight women. There is a list of providers in the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association directory and the Bisexual-Aware Professionals Directory. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and compassion.

Be your own advocate
You’ll need to be more assertive at times because some doctors will ask questions that are heteronormative. If you find that the doctor assumes you are a sexuality that you aren’t, you may need to answer broadly. You’ll want to make sure that you’re giving proper information about your past and current partners, and your sexuality. Some women will find it more difficult if they live in a small community with few doctors. Push yourself as far as you feel comfortable and remember that you can request certain types of screening for your physical and mental health.

Know your financial barriers
According to LGBT MAP’s Unfair Price study, bi women are more than twice as likely to live in poverty than the general population, and 29% of LGBT women have trouble finding affordable health care, compared to 19% of heterosexual women. Women in rural areas may experience even more difficulty. It’s of vital importance to have access to affordable health care. This could mean a visit to a free clinic, Planned Parenthood or a doctor’s office that takes your health insurance.

Get the word out
Form a support system and be supportive to others in a similar position. Doing this not only positively affects your chances of receiving affordable health care, it improves your health.

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A Dating App for Lesbians Created by a Lesbian

The dating app called “Her” was created exclusively for lesbians.

The service used to be named “Dattch” (a combo of the words date and catch), but people were having trouble pronouncing it, remembering it or knowing what it meant. In addition, Dattch was made for romantic relationships and dating. Her, on the other hand, has the option for pursuing relationships that are strictly platonic. This occurred because a lot of people wanted to be in on the social side of Her–the events posted and what everyone’s up to, for example. Her is a place to find a community of lesbians.

A Dating App for Lesbians Created by a Lesbian

Even though people of any sexual orientation are able to use OkCupid, Match.com, and Tinder, Her was the first dating app created for lesbians. The other sites usually have a limited dating pool for lesbians, with men even pretending to be women sometimes. There is another popular app that was created for lesbians. It’s called Brenda and was created by a man. Some people would not consider that encouraging or appealing.

When users of Her visit the site they are shown one profile at a time. This gives them the option to “like” the profile. Both users can exchange private messages if they “like” each other. Users are encouraged to upload photos of themselves to be displayed. There’s a lot going on with Her as far as social events go, too. There are blog feeds on the app, for eight cities across the US that show what’s going on in entertainment.

There have been some obstacles along with the creation of Her. Exton said that she had issues trying to find investors, some even doubting her sexuality because she has long hair. She was also told there wasn’t any market, but thankfully this has proven to be false because the app has seen consistent, month-to-month growth.

Study Shows LGBT Women among Most at Risk for Poverty

A study conducted by The National LGBTQ Task Force, Movement Advance Project, and Center for American Progress, called Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for LGBT Women in America, shows that LGBT women are presented with challenges that obstruct their economic well being in health coverage, jobs and getting legal recognition from their families. The study emphasizes the many obstacles that LGBT women in the US face, including exclusion from insurance coverage, wage differences and inflexible workplaces.

LGBT women (transgender in particular) risk employment discrimination
Sixteen percent of LGB individuals said they lost their job because of sexual orientation and 35 percent said they were harassed by their employers, as recently as 2008. Sixty-two percent of LGB people in the study said they heard jokes about lesbians and gays while at work. Out of the transgender women surveyed, 55 percent of them said they were turned down for employment due to their gender identity.

LGBT women are asked by healthcare providers to pay higher rates
They are twice as likely as non-LGBT women to not have a doctor who they visit on a consistent and regular basis. LGBT women with incomes at or below $47,000/yr tend not to have healthcare coverage. The fact that there are exclusions in care for transition-related issues, it’s incredibly expensive for needed services for trans women.

LGBT women are more likely not allowed to be legal parents of their children
They often lack protected family or medical leave at work, and face obstacles in obtaining safe, affordable health care for their families. This is due to the lack of marriage equality throughout the US.

Study Shows LGBT Women among Most at Risk for Poverty

LGBT women pay higher rent and longer rental applications
One study by H.U.D. showed that opposite-sex couples were favored over same-sex couples by 16 percent when they applied for the same rentals. Same-sex couples were given higher prices, longer application processes and less incentives about promotions.

LGBT women lack intimate partner violence protection
The study showed that bisexual women were less “out” in the workplace, which may cause them to stay in an abusive relationship because they fear being outed by their partner. It’s also possible that women who report domestic violence when they’re in same-sex relationships are not taken seriously because of gender stereotypes.

LGBT women/families may not be aware of their eligibility for government assistance
It’s challenging for same-sex couples to navigate state and federal benefit systems because of the legal jumble of relationship recognition for them.

Pediatrician Refuses to Treat Newborn of Lesbian Couple

Dr. Vesna Roi of Eastlake Pediatrics in Roseville, Michigan refused to treat the newborn child of Krista and Jami Contreras after “much prayer”, even after initially agreeing to do so. The lesbian couple in Michigan says Roi refused to care for their child due to their sexual orientation.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Krista and Jami brought their 6-day-old in to see the doctor for a check-up when another doctor informed them that Roi would not see them.  This doctor offered to care for their child.  According to the couple, the second doctor also informed them that Roi did not pay a visit to the clinic that day because she didn’t want to see them.

The baby’s biological mother, Krista, said, “I was completely dumbfounded.”  She told the paper, “We just looked at each other and said, ‘Did we hear that correctly?’”

Pediatrician Refuses to Treat Newborn of Lesbian Couple

Roi wrote a letter to the couple, which is posted online by the Free Press.  She apologized for not letting them know in person and said the child, Bay, would have to be seen by another doctor in the clinic.  She also wrote: “After much prayer following your prenatal, I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient doctor relationship that I normally do with my patients”.

This may seem way out there, but what Roi said and did is not illegal.  Michigan is not one of the 22 states that have laws that prohibit doctors from discrimination based on sexual orientation. But, the American Medical Association’s code of ethics does say that doctors should not refuse care based on race, gender, or sexual orientation.  Doctors are allowed to refuse specific treatments if they somehow are not in alignment with the doctor’s personal, moral or religious beliefs.

According to Roi’s website, she hasn’t been part of the AMA since 2001, but she does belong to the American Academy of Pediatrics which also encourages non-discrimination.

Sexual Safety During Pregnancy Possible for Lesbians Too

Worrying about the safety of sexual activity is not something limited to heterosexual couples. Many lesbian couples worry, too.  Thankfully, there’s generally no reason to avoid intimacy when you’re expecting. However, there may be certain activities your doctor will advise you to avoid if you are considered a high-risk pregnancy.

Pregnant lesbians may find the topic of sex to be a touchy subject. During pregnancy some women experience heightened senses and an increased libido, while others lack sexual desire completely. Some have partners who are afraid of injuring the baby and, as a result, put any sexual feelings on the back burner.  It’s important to keep in mind, though, that most pregnant women want to be intimate and many want to participate in sexual activity.

Even if genital sex is not desired, there are other ways to go about creating intimacy such as massage, kissing, and touching.  The majority of types of lesbian sexual activity, including light penetration, is safe for most pregnant women. However, it’s important to stay away from certain activities such as rough S&M, deep thrusting, or fisting. Do not continue any sexual activity that triggers any discomfort. Avoiding sex toys such as vibrators, dildos and strap-ons are suggested since there’s difficulty in knowing where they’re touching exactly.

Sexual Safety During Pregnancy Possible for Lesbians Too

During pregnancy, it’s important to take time for yourselves.  Otherwise, you’ll find that you won’t naturally have that emotional energy. Take time to get together with friends and family. This is especially important if you’re a single pregnant woman, finding that you’re isolated from most of the lesbian community during this time. Perhaps you’ll even find it worth considering to give yourself a spa day.

And, if you are in a partnership, include your loved one for the spa day. You needn’t even visit a spa. Stay home, give each other massages, have a special dinner together, and even a gigantic dessert. Why not? At least once in awhile.

This is not an easy time for couples, in general, but it can still have more ups than downs. You can both keep your relationship fresh, especially when remembering that you’re going to have to take it more slowly than usual. You might have actual sex less, but find that you’ll become more intimate with your partner in ways that you never imagined.

Potentially Awkward Situations Some Lesbians Face

It’s not always easy to just be yourself. Some lesbians get much more comfortable and confident about awkward situations, but there are many to deal with. Here are some potentially uncomfortable situations lesbians tend to experience:

Questions about pregnancy at the doctor’s office

It’s very common to go to a doctor for any type of ailment and get asked the question, “Is there a possibility that you are pregnant?” Sometimes, even if you’ve seen this doctor numerous times…they never seem to remember. After a while the nurse has asked you so many questions when you feel the need to just tell them you’re a lesbian because they haven’t been able to connect the dots.

Potentially Awkward Situations Some Lesbians Face

Asking other women to hang out as friends

We live in a heteronormative society and, for the most part, people tend to assume everyone is heterosexual, unless it’s otherwise confirmed. However, being a lesbian can change this view. It’s possible you want to ask a heterosexual woman to go grab a bite to eat or go to a movie (just as friends), and you worry about her perception of you, whether she feels uncomfortable that you might be asking her out romantically, or if she even knows you’re a lesbian. It can feel really awkward… and never feels less so for some lesbians, no matter how many times they’ve been through it.

Everyday interactions in a heteronormative world

Living in a heteronormative society, lesbians experience prejudices in situations that others take for granted.  For example, you might want to check in to a hotel room with your girlfriend when the front desk clerk seems to insist that you want two beds in the room. Why would you possibly want to share one? It can feel awkward for some lesbians to have to assert themselves in this type of situation, to a complete stranger who seems to have no clue.

Common Anxieties New Intergenerational Gay Couples Experience

Intergenerational couples face anxieties related to their age differences and prejudices from the outside that can make it exceptionally difficult for their relationships to grow. By taking the obvious anxieties (sometimes they’re not apparent to either partner) and tackling them head on, differences can be deemed worthy of addressing or irreconcilable. Read on to learn of some of the top anxieties some gay intergenerational couples face.

Perception
When intergenerational couples are first beginning their relationship, they’re often concerned about the perception of others. A lot of anxieties for the couple dictate their approach to the relationship. Significant negative impacts may result from outside societal pressure.

Opportunism
Both partners in a relationship may suspect that they’re being taken advantage of in some way. For example, does the younger one in the relationship just use the older partner for their money? Or, is the older partner using the younger partner for sex, or as “arm candy”? It’s important to have this discussion with your partner before assuming opportunism is the case because it can be very hurtful if that assumption is incorrect. Of course, if it’s true, it’s a legitimate reason to call it quits.

Common Anxieties New Intergenerational Gay Couples Experience

Sexual performance
This is more often an anxiety experienced by the older partner.  As men age, their sexual function often decreases and they focus on those problems. They might have concerns with performance and how their younger partner will judge them. It’s also the case that the younger man might fear they’re not experienced enough for their older partner.

Autonomy
This is more of a problem for the younger partner in a relationship. The older partner is quite often more established financially and professionally. And, they have usually been out of the closet for a longer period of time; more secure with their sexuality. At the same time, the older partner may fear that they’re holding back their younger partner when it comes to to their development and sexual experiences.

Rejection
This happens in many relationships that are new– the fear of rejection. All of the anxieties we have feed into this fear. Is the younger man experienced or educated as much as the older man? On the other hand,  is the older man fit enough, with sufficient energy to keep up with his younger partner?  If there’s any concern, these are important questions to explore with your partner; they can be confronted and dealt with…and the relationship can flourish.

LGBT Youth Experience More Cyber Bullying

LGBT youth face significant difficulties with discrimination, harassment and lack of family support.

It also happens that they face more harassment online–a place where many youth go to feel as if they’re more part of a community, receive support, medical information, and other opportunities . One study by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that LGBT youth faced cyber bullying three times more than non-LGBT youth. The study points out that those living in more rural areas experience even higher levels of harassment online and shows that 42 percent of LGBT youth face a higher level of online bullying, compared to 15 percent of those who are straight/cisgender. Part of the study resulted in findings that show LGBT youth were twice as likely to report bullying through text messages.

This study, called “Out Online: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth on the Internet”, included results from a national survey which included 5,680 middle and high school students, grades 6-12. It was found that lower grade point average and self-esteem, and a higher chance of depression were linked to youth affected by bullying.

LGBT Youth Experience More Cyber Bullying

Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s Executive Director said, “LGBT youth continue to face extraordinary obstacles in their day-to-day lives whether at school or online, but the Internet can be a valuable source of information and support when they have no one or nowhere else left to turn to. As social media evolve, so must our efforts to serve LGBT youth to ensure their safety, health and well-being.”

It is important for LGBT youth to have access to resources available on the Internet that they either would not be able to find elsewhere, or that they don’t feel comfortable seeking offline.  For example, this study shows that LGBT youth (particularly those who are transgender) are twice as likely to look up medical information online than their straight/cisgender peers. It is vital that LGBT youth know they have a safe place to be themselves online, especially if they don’t feel that support elsewhere.

LGBT Health Disparities and Cancer

We don’t know a sufficient amount about cancer in the LGBT population.

There are specific prevention and treatment programs that have been designed for groups based on statistics. Such data comes from certain geographic, racial and ethnic groups. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people need to know exactly how prevalent cancer is among their groups because they currently don’t.

Even without official data, it’s pretty safe to say that LGBT people are disproportionately affected by cancer. There is plenty of research to confirm LGBT people have a specific “cluster of risk factors” that would give them greater incidence of cancer and diagnosis in a later stage. It is estimated that there are currently over 1 million LGBT cancer survivors in the US. This disproportionate amount of risk factors and burden of disease is referred to as “health disparities”.

Although there aren’t any biological or physiological differences between heterosexual and LGBT people, disparities exist due to a combination of economic and social factors and behaviors. These can frequently be linked to the stresses that come with living as a gender and/or sexual minority in the US.

LGBT Health Disparities and Cancer

One study of health disparities of lesbian, gay, and bisexual women found that bisexual women and lesbians were more likely than heterosexual women to:

  • Generally be in worse physical and mental health
  • Have asthma
  • Have diabetes
  • Be overweight
  • Smoke
  • Consume too much alcohol

This study showed that these women were at a higher risk for breast cancer and other cancers associated with alcohol abuse, obesity and smoking.

Health disparities in the LGBT community are not limited to cancer incidences. The quality of life for cancer survivors in the LGBT population is profoundly different from heterosexuals with regard to sexuality, relationships in general, and interactions with medical professionals. For example, gay and heterosexual men are affected much differently when it comes to changes in sexual function due to prostate cancer treatment. Unfortunately, few health care professionals will bother asking gay men about their sex lives or even know how to respond if the patient inquires about the issue. It is important that those in the LGBT community receive competent, compassionate medical treatment, with unique problems considered and addressed.

10 Topics for Lesbians to Discuss with their Doctor

The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association’s (GLMA) healthcare providers have identified the following issues as the most commonly of concern for lesbians.

Breast Cancer
Lesbians are less likely to receive screening exams, but more likely to have risks for breast cancer. This means they are at risk for not being diagnosed when the disease is most curable.

Depression/Anxiety
Due to discrimination, many lesbians may experience chronic stress, especially when they need to hide their orientation or have lost important emotional support because of it. This can cause anxiety and depression.

Heart health
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women. Obesity and smoking are the biggest risk factors for heart disease among lesbians. It’s important for all lesbians to receive medical exams each year for cholesterol problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Tips can be provided about smoking cessation, weight control and increasing physical activity.

10 Topics for Lesbians to Discuss with their Doctor

Gynecological Cancer
Compared to heterosexual women, lesbians have higher risks of certain types gynecological cancers. In order to find cancers early and have the best chance for a cure, it’s important to have regular Pap tests and pelvic exams.

Fitness
According to research, lesbians are more likely to be obese or overweight. Obesity is associated with higher rates of cancers, heart disease and premature death. It is important for lesbians to have supportive and competent advice about living a healthy lifestyle, which includes exercise and diet.

Tobacco
Smoking has been associated with higher rates of heart disease, emphysema and cancers which are three major causes of death among women. Research shows that lesbians use tobacco more than heterosexual women do.

Alcohol
Heavy drinking and binge drinking are more common among lesbians compared to other women. While one drink a day may be good for the heart, more than that can raise your risk of cancer, liver disease and other health problems.

Substance Abuse
Perhaps due to stress from sexism, homophobia and/or discrimination, lesbians may use drugs more frequently than heterosexual women. They need support and help finding healthy ways to reduce stress and cope.

Intimate Partner Violence
Health care providers fail to ask lesbians about intimate partner violence as much as they ask heterosexual women. Lesbians sometimes experience domestic partner violence and need to be questioned and have access to counseling and shelters, if needed.

Sexual Health
It’s important for lesbians to be screened for STDs by a healthcare provider, just as heterosexual women would be. They can get the same infections as any other woman, are able to give each other STDs by skin-to-skin contact, vaginal fluids, mucous membrane contact and menstrual blood.