Tag Archives: lesbian

President Obama Wants Conversion Therapy Banned

Transgender 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn wrote in her suicide note that one of the ways her family rejected her was by forcing her to see “Christian therapists.”  These therapists told her that she was selfish and wrong, and should look to God for help. Soon after her suicide, a White House petition was started, calling for “Leelah’s Law,”  which would ban all forms of the cruel ex-transgender and ex-gay conversion therapies.

Recently, the White House responded to the petition in agreement that conversion therapy should be banned.  Valerie Jarrett, White House Senior Advisor, said, “The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.”  She added, “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”

President Obama Wants Conversion Therapy Banned

Jarrett believes that even with the best intentions, families can cause harm to their children who are LGBTQ. She said, “Countless families and guardians across the country proudly support their LGBTQ+ children. Too many LGBTQ+ youth, however, lack this support system, which can have devastating consequences. Negative family reactions to LGBTQ+ youth can be perceived as rejection by children, often contributing to serious health issues and inhibiting a child’s development and well-being. And when it comes to LGBTQ+ youth, some actions by family and caregivers can be harmful, despite even the best intentions.”

This year, Republican lawmakers have defeated several legislative bans that were pending in various states; some are still pending. Currently, only California, New Jersey, and Washington, DC have banned conversion therapy for minors. According to Jarrett, a national ban would require congressional action. But, she said: “We’re hopeful that the clarity of the evidence combined with the action taken by the states will lead to broader action that the administration would support.”

Jarrett stated in an interview with the New York Times that Obama was incredibly moved by Alcorn’s story and added that it’s not a unique experience: “It’s not the story of one young person,” she said. “It is the story of countless young people who have been subjected to this.”

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.

6 Major Reasons We Need to Rethink HIV Prevention

Many HIV prevention campaigns rely on appealing to our emotions, but are not taking a good look at the HIV research and information available. Read on to see why we should rethink HIV prevention.

60 Percent of young people with HIV do not know their status
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 60 percent of young individuals have no idea that they have HIV. Some men and women who are HIV negative think that it is too big of a risk to be with someone who discloses that they are HIV positive, yet they might go on to have sex with someone who believes they’re HIV negative, but hasn’t been tested to verify. Those undiagnosed carry a higher viral load than those who are aware of their status and on treatment.

91 percent of new HIV transmission happen by those who are not diagnosed or haven’t been treated
This statistic comes from a new study released by JAMA Internal Medicine. In 2009, there were more than 1.1 million people living with HIV; of these people 207,600 were undiagnosed and 519,414 knew they were HIV positive, but were not receiving medical care. In comparison to those who were undiagnosed, those who knew about their status, yet not receiving medical care were 19 percent less likely to transmit the virus.

6 Major Reasons We Need to Rethink HIV Prevention

Those who are HIV positive and receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) who have achieved an undetectable viral load are 96 percent less likely to spread HIV
There hasn’t been a reported case of anyone living with the virus with an undetectable viral load who has transmitted the virus.

Truvada has been shown to reduce HIV transmission by 96 – 99 percent, when used daily
One new study also shows when PrEP is used as needed (a user taking Truvada 2-24 hours before sex and one pill 24 and 48 hours after) has shown to be 86 percent effective in preventing HIV. With all that’s available–TasP, PrEP and condom use, there seems to be much less of a reason to fear sex with someone with someone of opposite HIV status. Be open and honest with your partner.

Three out of 10 in the US have their virus under control
The care continuum, which is also known as the HIV treatment cascade, showed that even though 86 percent of people living with HIV were diagnosed, only 30 percent of them had  an undetectable viral load. The majority of those living with HIV know they have it, but are either too scared or unable to do what is needed to control it.

You can expect to live an additional 51 years if you’re newly diagnosed in your 20’s
That is, if you enter proper treatment. This is roughly the same number of years as a person without HIV would live. Many need only take one pill each day to manage HIV. Of course, there are mental and emotional health issues to treat as well.

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.

Doctors Need to Initiate Communication with LGBTQ Patients

LGBTQ patients are faced with a variety of health obstacles.

Within the community are high rates of substance abuse and suicide. Men who have sex with men (MSM) make up the majority of new cases of HIV. In order to narrow and eventually close the health gaps between LGBTQ patients and those who are straight, doctors need to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity with their patients.

Dr. Harvey Makadon, director of the National LGBT Health Education Center at the Fenway Institute in Boston said that few physicians talk to patients about sexual behavior, desires and issues of identity.

It’s important for doctors to speak up about sexual orientation and gender identity with patients. It’s a huge part of one’s life and certain issues need to be addressed that affect both mental and physical health. Doctors are potentially missing some of the big issues. Those in the transgender community are of particular concern. Statistics in the community are unsettling. Transgender individuals suffer high rates of poverty, crime and STDs. Almost one-third of transgender women have HIV. According to Makadon, that’s a rate 49 percent higher than other adults of reproductive age.

Doctors Need to Initiate Communication with LGBTQ Patients

Physicians who are not afraid to treat transgender patients hold the key to preventing significant medical issues. It’s tricky because not all MSM identify as gay and some transgender people may have trouble defining gender clearly, particularly those who are younger and. It’s important for people to become comfortable and get to know LGBTQ people. It will allow individuals to feel at ease in seeking care.

Health issues may start early; children and teens struggle with sexuality. LGBTQ teens have a higher suicide rate than straight teens—two to three times higher, in fact. There are also issues with regard to lack of support systems, as many of them have faced parental rejection. This often leads to homelessness, which leads to risky behaviors that include drug and alcohol abuse and sex work. Transgender and gay minorities face rates of HIV infection that are even higher.

Makadon says, “Most people who I’ve had this discussion with say that the duty to care for everybody has to outweigh personal values. For people who continue to feel too conflicted, they probably shouldn’t continue to be in a caring profession. That may sound harsh, but I do think it’s a reality that if we do provide healthcare that we have to provide healthcare for everybody.

Eating Disorders a Significant Problem in the LGBT Community

Numerous findings from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) have been gathered about eating disorders in the LGBT population.

Unfortunately, eating disorders are a problem with individuals in general. In the US, 20 million women are affected and 10 million men. In the LGBT community, a reported 15 percent of gay and bisexual men reported having some type of eating disorder in their life compared to 4.6 percent of heterosexual men. A survey showed that gay men were seven times more likely to binge and 12 times more likely to purge than heterosexual men. In the LGBT adolescent group, gay and bisexual individuals were much more likely to have gone on a fast, vomited or purged in another way, than heterosexuals reported.

Eating Disorders a Significant Problem in the LGBT Community

According to the research, lesbian women appeared to be the most satisfied with their bodies overall, but they, along with bisexual females, were at more of a binge-eating risk than heterosexual women, at approximately twice the rate. Lesbian and bisexual girls were also shown to have higher rates of laxative use and purging, or vomiting than heterosexual girls. No matter their sex, those identifying as LGBTQ were more likely to have disordered eating habits or an eating disorder than their heterosexual peers. It was not unusual for LGBT teens to have disordered eating habits when they were as young as 12.

There are some issues that may explain this big difference in eating disorders in the LGBT population, with teens in particular, including:

  • Internalization of negative thoughts and messages about gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation
  • Fears about rejection and coming out
  • Having previous traumatic experiences related to sexual orientation
  • Past experiences with discrimination or bullying

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions associated with eating disorders. For example, many people don’t think they affect men or they believe eating disorders to be lifestyle choices, not illnesses. It’s important to spread awareness of the actual truth.  There is help available and everyone should feel safe seeking treatment.

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.

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.

Questions that Insult Queer Women

There are some questions you’re better off knowing will likely be annoying to queer women.

Who’s the man in your relationship?
Who is the man in your relationship?  Lesbian relationships involve two women and this question assumes that one of the women is acting as a man.  Even if the relationship involves a more feminine woman and a butch woman, this doesn’t mean that one of them is roleplaying as a man. It’s rude to assume so.

How do you have sex?
Is this a question you would ask anybody?  Why would you think that it’s appropriate to ask a lesbian or bisexual woman?   And, there’s more than one way to go about having sex no matter your sexual orientation.  Are you really expecting anybody you choose to provide the details of their sexual activities?

If you’ve never had sex with a man how do you know you’re a lesbian?
Answer this question yourself by asking:  how do I know my sexuality if I haven’t engaged in sex with someone of the same sex?

Are you up for a threesome?
Many queer women are affected by this question– especially bisexual women.  Just as many, if not more, queer women choose to be in a monogamous relationship and have no interest whatsoever in inviting anybody else to join.

Questions That Can Be Insulting to Queer Women

You must not be bisexual anymore since you married a man
Just because a bisexual woman enters into a monogamous relationship with a man doesn’t mean that she has lost her sexuality.  Although she may not continue to have sex with women, it’s very possible she’s still going to be attracted to women. The fact that she doesn’t act on it doesn’t make it less so.

You just haven’t found the right man
This assumes that queer women exist just because they’ve had unpleasant experiences with men. While it may be the case that some of them have had bad relationships with men, the same would apply to heterosexual women. Does this mean that they are going to become lesbians suddenly? No.

Life would be so much easier if I were a lesbian
Really?  Probably not, especially due to the hate crimes, higher suicide rates, harassment, workplace discrimination, stigma,  possible isolation from your family,  and the list goes on. This is an insensitive comment to make to a queer woman. Do you really think life would be easier? Choose sensitivity; think before you speak.