“Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health” edited by Adrian Shanker— Health Disparities

Shanker, Adrian (editor). “Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health”,  PM Press, 2020.

Health Disparities

Amos Lassen

We are aware that members of the LGBTQ community have health disparities and they are forced to try to find some meaning in the challenges they face  and that in many cases their health suffers. Likewise, health care professionals, students in health professions, policymakers, and fellow activists are ill-informed about these challenges. “Bodies and Barriers” gives providing insights and a road map for ways that could improve queer health. Twenty-six well-known and emerging queer activists provide essays here about the health challenges that LGBT people face and we see direct challenges to conventional wisdom about proper health care. We look at the roots of the disparities and thus give activists important and critical information with which to fight for health equity through the use of clinical, behavioral, and policy changes. HIV/AIDS was a catastrophe for the community but it did provide guidelines for dealing with  for the struggles against health care bias and discrimination.

Assisted by Dr. Rachel L. Levine and Kate Kendall,Adrian Shanker has edited a helpful and informative collection of essays that address the disparities in the quality and availability of healthcare and the LGBT community. One keen aspect of this collection of essays. The main focus here is informing the body of healthcare professionals and those who are creating and maintaining policies about healthcare. Too often LGBT rights are overlooked and pushed for LGBT people to deal with and not always to their liking. LGBT rights are human rights, yet there is a difference between the way that LGBT people and their heterosexual counterparts are treated. It would seem that this is common knowledge but obviously it is not. LGBT people face barriers to care  and these, in turn, bring about higher behavioral risk factors for the contagion of sexually transmitted and other diseases. The LGBT community has to deal with more serious health outcomes than the majority of the population.

The book is arranged in sections that follow the life-cycle–youth, young adults, middle-age adults, and older adults. In each of these categories, outstanding contributors give extensive and well-researched essays designed to reform the present system. You might think that a book like this is just for reference but it is highly readable and totally understandable.

We read a great deal here about identity in the LGBT community and it is a powerful background for not only the book but for society as well.  Each essay looks at an aspect of the LGBT community and we learn of individual and shared experiences of trying to get through a health care system. The persona testimonies are amazing reads and we see that biologically speaking, we are all the same. It is hard to believe that this is not an accepted fact that we have to read a book to discover or reaffirm that.

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