Written by consumers, a new anthology Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health features some familiar names from the region.
Edited by Adrian Shanker, founder and executive director of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, the book includes a foreword by Dr. Rachel Levine, PA Secretary of Health, and chapters by York County’s Preston Heidlebridle, and Dauphin County’s Katharine Dalke.
Bodies and Barriers is a book written by LGBT healthcare consumers to inform the healthcare system and make it work more equitably. The book is structured chronologically to take the reader on a journey through the major stages of life for LGBT people.
In addition to contributions by Levine, Dalke and Heldibridle, Lancaster-native Atticus Ranck writes about addiction and recovery in the queer community. Ranck also writes for The Central Voice.
Shanker tells CV about his journey with the book.
Q - Why is this book important in 2020?
A - The LGBT movement has achieved significant progress. Yet in 2020 it's still the case that LGBT people experience significant challenges when accessing health care - and that's assuming we can access healthcare, which isn't the case for all LGBT people.
Q – How is the book presented?
A - Bodies and Barriers presents real stories from 26 LGBT activists who share their experiences.
One of the first chapters, by Katharine Dalke, from Dauphin County, is about informed consent for intersex children. The final chapter, by Justin Tanis, is about bereavement support for the LGBT community.
Q – What do these stories say about healthcare?
A - The truth is that the healthcare isn't working for LGBT people. In 2020, healthcare professionals and policy makers need to listen to our stories and start to provide the care we deserve. The book elevates these issues, hoping to move our country toward patient-centered care.
Q - What is your most significant learning having edited a book on LGBT health issues?
A - Every contributor presents information that all of us will learn from whether we are seasoned activists or are just getting to know the LGBT community. The biggest thing I learned from editing this book is that my own challenging experiences with healthcare aren't so unique - that in fact, these challenges are quite pervasive. The stories remind all of us how important it is to fight for a healthcare system that works for all of us.
Q - Would including LGBT topics in K-12 education help with the issues addressed in the book?
A - Certainly, we should have an educational system that includes comprehensive, LGBT-inclusive sex education. We should have LGBT role-models presented across school curricula. But this issue doesn't end with high school. Most medical schools and other health professional programs provide only one-to-four lecture hours through their entire program dedicated to LGBT health. No wonder that our healthcare professionals know so little about is. When the healthcare challenges LGBT people experience makes it into the curriculum for future health professionals, we will begin to see more health professionals entering clinical spaces with a greater understanding of our bodies and our lives.