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By Kyla Bender-Baird
This week has been National LGBTQ Health Awareness Week. All week I've been keeping my eye open for a fact to feature in honor of this important week. Well, last night, the National Center for Transgender Equality delivered it straight to my inbox. Don't you love it when that happens?
As NCTE shared with me, the Insitute of Medicine has released a new report--The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding. Apparently the report provides a review of research on LGBT health disparities and calls for increased research into the health status of LGBT folk. Now this is something I can stand behind, especially after reading this on the report's website:
While LGBT populations often are combined as a single entity for research and advocacy purposes, each is a distinct population group with its own specific health needs. Furthermore, the experiences of LGBT individuals are not uniform and are shaped by factors of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographical location, and age, any of which can have an effect on health-related concerns and needs.
Um, yes! Now, as scholar-activists (or is it activist-scholars?), we know this. But it's really refreshing to see a government entity acknolwedge it. Now, I'm ready to see the follow-through. Let's hope the government pays attention to this report and starts funding LGBT health research and outreach with greater vigor. In the meantime, here are some fast facts from the report to chew on (most of which we already know, but it never hurts to say again):
- LGB youth are at increased risk for suicidal ideation and attempts as well as depression. Small studies the same may be true for transgender youth.
- The homeless youth population comprises a disproportionate number of LGB youth. Some research suggests that young transgender women are also at significant risk for homelessness.
- LGBT youth report experiencing elevated levels of violence, victimization, and harassment compared with heterosexual and non-gender-variant youth.
- Lesbians and bisexual women may use preventive health services less frequently than heterosexual women.
- Limited research suggests that transgender elders may experience negative health outcomes as a result of long-term hormone use.