Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health— San Francisco Review of Books

By Grady Harp
San Francisco Review of Books
April 29th, 2020

‘LGBT people lack health equity’

Adrian Shanker is the editor of this informative compendium of essays that address the disparity in healthcare availability and quality facing the LGBT community. He is assisted in this publication by Rachel L Levine, MD and Kate Kendall who open and close this important series of observations and experiences as related by prominent queer activists. 

One keen aspect of this collection of essays is the focus on informing the body of healthcare professionals as well as those in position of providing medical insurance and those whose position is in creating and maintaining policies about healthcare delivery. Dr. Levine, the secretary of health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Pennsylvania State College of medicine, sets the tone in her Foreword – ‘As a physician, I’ve seen the health consequences of neglecting a patient’s needs; as a policy maker, I’ve seen the cost of creating policies that are uninformed; and as a transgender woman, I’ve felt the burden of other’s ignorance. Too often LGBT rights are overlooked and set aside as a personal issue for LGBT individuals to tolerate. LGBT rights are irrefutably human rights, and currently there is a significant discrepancy between the treatment of LGBT individuals compared to their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts…LGBT individuals are part of larger communities, families, teams, and social networks. It pains me that these points must be reiterated, however this conversation is clearly pressing and imperative.’

This moving statement opens the platform for the voices of twenty-six significant contributors, introduced by editor Adrian Shanker who shares, ‘LGBT people experience unique structural barriers to care that lead to higher behavioral risk factors for numerous sexually transmitted and chronic diseases. When compounded with past negative experiences in health care settings, including outright discrimination, the LGBT community experiences worse health outcomes than the majority population. This isn’t our fault…This book is arranged to follow the lifespan – youth, young adults, middle-age adults, and older adults. Every health care professional can benefit from this book. From emerging activists to nonprofit leaders, from pride organizers to those engaged in direct action, the activism that supports the LGBT community improves our health.’

In each of the four categories Adrian mentions, outstanding contributors offer sensitive, factual, well-researched and documented essays on the imperative need for reform in the field of health care. This is a powerful, well-written and important book, not only for the LGBT community, but for all people who wish to be informed and assist in change. Highly recommended. 

Editor’s note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp.Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB‘s free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

Adrian Shanker is an award-winning activist and organizer whose career has centered on advancing progress for the LGBT community. He has worked as an arts fundraiser, labor organizer, marketing manager, and served as President of Equality Pennsylvania for three years before founding Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, PA, where he serves as executive director. An accomplished organizer, Adrian has led numerous successful campaigns to advance LGBT progress through municipal nondiscrimination and relationship recognition laws and laws to protect LGBT youth from conversion therapy. A specialist in LGBT health policy, he has developed leading-edge health promotion campaigns to advance health equity through behavioral, clinical, and policy changes.

Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health

Back to Adrian Shanker’s Author Page