Personally I am extremely grateful to have grown up in a culture where the women’s health movement had already had significant effects and waves. I went to teen-positive health centers for my first annual exams and birth control prescriptions, I went to queer-positive centers after I came out who didn’t blink twice when I checked “lesbian” on the forms.
And, honestly, Lesbian Health and Women’s Health are big – huge! – topics on which I am not so well-versed. Breast cancer, cervical cancer, HIV prevention, the myths around lesbians being less susceptible to STIs, safer sex practices, gender discrimination, transphobia … these are huge topics, each of which are worthy of their own examination.
And lucky for us, there are many wonderful people working within these fields to make it more lesbian-inclusive, queer-inclusive, gender-inclusive.
Today is Blog for Lesbian Health Day in honor of the upcoming National Lesbian Health Summit taking place March 6 through 8, 2009, in San Francisco. It’s only $30 registration for both days.
(Anyone have any plane-fare hookups? I’d love to go, but can’t afford to actually get there. Note to self, get an airline sponsor.)
I’ve been in touch with Cat, one of the organizers of the conference, and she writes:
Instead of it being just a boring conference, we want to use it as a place to build grassroots, community-based conversations on our health and what health issues affect us. AND most importantly, how we can be leaders in championing our health and getting TPTB to pay attention to our health. This is a critical moment in our nation’s history and we want to make the most of it.
The thing that is probably #1 on my list about health, as a, ahem, sexually active queer person, is STIs and safer sex. It’s something that I always intend to write about more here, to address issues how to keep your toys clean, reminders to wear gloves and use dams and condoms, but it’s a topic that – again – is HUGE, and I tend to feel like I need to do a whole bunch of research on something before I write it up, and I can’t seem to make the time to do the research. (I do practice safer sex, and I try to include it in my write-ups … but that’s not quite the same as opening up a specific dialogue about it.)
So let me take this little opportunity to say: EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT SAFER SEX. There are many ways to do this. I recommend Scarleteen – though it is geared toward teenagers, the information is clear and straightforward, basic, and in-depth, and I often use it as a resource when I come across health questions that I can’t answer.
So, instead of writing about my own experiences with the healthcare systems (which have been mostly positive, actually) or speculating too much about the community questions, I want to ask you:
What health issues are you concerned about? For yourself and for your community?
What information do you need to make better decisions about your health?
And what experiences have you already had with your health and the healthcare world (the good, the bad, the ugly)?
What do health issues do we need to take on and how?
How can we better grapple with how we form who we are (allowing for all of the ways we see ourselves) and let that lead our conversations on health?
What do you want to see this summit address?
Do you want to take them to task for calling it the Lesbian Health Summit? Is it welcoming to your particular identity?
If you’d like, leave your stories in the comments, or write it up on your own blog – and please do leave a link to what you write here.