Anthology addresses LGBT health care equality


By The Central Voice
January/February Issue

Ever been in a health care setting and felt afraid to be honest? Ever felt invisible? Judged negatively because of who you love?

The new anthology Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health, edited by Adrian Shanker is for you. Shanker is Founder and Executive Director of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Allentown.

The book features advocates and activists from the central Pennsylvania region, and other areas, and includes a foreword by Dr. Rachel Levine, and chapters by Preston Heidlebridle (York County), and Katharine Dalke (Dauphin County).

Bodies and Barriers is written by LGBT healthcare consumers to inform the healthcare system and make it work more equitably for everyone. The book is structured chronologically to take the reader on a journey through the major stages of life for LGBT people.

Shanker tells The Central VoiceCentral Voice: Why is this book important
in 2020?

Adrian Shanker: 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 is not the case for all LGBT people. Bodies and Barriers:Queer Activists on Health presents the real stories from 26 LGBT activists to share the challenges we’ve experienced. One of the first chapters,by Katharine Dalke of Central Pennsylvania, is about informed consent for intersex children. The final chapter, by Justin Tanis, is about bereavement support for the LGBT community. The truth is that the healthcare isn’t working for LGBT people. And in 2020, healthcare professionals and policy makers need to listen to our stories and start to provide the care we deserve. Bodies and Barriers is about elevating these issues and moving our country toward patient- centered care.

CV: What is your most significant learning having edited a book on LGBT health issues?

AS: Every contributing author in Bodies and Barriers 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 the authors in this book share will remind all of us how important it is to fight for a healthcare system that works for all of us!

CV: Would including LGBT topics in k-12 education help with the issues addressed in the book?

AS: Certainly, we should have an educational system that includes comprensive, 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.

CV: Add anything you think is important but CV has not asked. Tell Us a littlebit about the authors from Central Pennsylvania!

AS: Three of the authors included in Bodies and Barriers are from Central Pennsylvania. Secretary of Health Rachel Levine (Dauphin) authored the foreword of the book, Katharine Dalke (Dauphin) writes about informed consent for intersex children, and Preston Heldibridle (York) writes about safe binding for transmasculine youth. Additionally, Lancaster-native Atticus Ranck writes about addiction and recovery in the queer community.

CV: When can I buy a copy?

AS: Copies of Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health can be purchased from directly from PM Press ( or from your favorite bookseller!

Back to Adrian Shanker’s Author Page