Adrian Shanker's Blog, Review

Reading Resolution: “Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health”

By Alanna McFall
December 28th, 2020

25. A book released in 2020: Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health edited by Adrian Shanker

List Progress: 30/30

I’m finishing out the year with a 2020 release, and one I got right at the beginning, bringing the year all sorts of full-circle. I picked up a copy of the indie-published Bodies and Barriers at FOGcon, the convention I went to in early March, before the shut-downs and we all started having a lot more feelings about healthcare. But while I imagine the authors of this book would have a lot to say about Covid-19, the articles included cover a lot of broad and universal aspects of queer health and the challenges therein. It is a bracing read in a lot of ways, but a very strong and powerful one.

Collected and edited by health activist Adrian Shanker, Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health is a collection of essays detailing the various struggles and challenges LGBT people face in terms of health and the world of health care. The book is divided into sections by age: Youth, Young Adults, Middle-Aged Adults and Older Adults. This gives the sense of a longitudinal look at a queer person’s life: issues as early as surgeries performed on intersex infants to as late as discrimination within senior assisted-living communities are covered over the course of these pages. I like to think of myself as a fairly well-informed member of the LGBT community, but there were a lot of issues here I had never even considered, though they seem obvious when pointed out. While the issues of mental health and AIDS were covered, it meant a lot to see the conversation stretch out in far more directions than those two. Some of the essays were more anecdotal, some more grounded in statistics and evidence, but they all had compelling messages to convey.

I have very few criticisms of this book. While some of the essays were a little bit weaker, the standard overall was very high, with all of them feeling factual but accessible. My favorites in the collection, often the ones that let me share the most bits of trivia with my partner, are the following:

  • “Informed Consent for Intersex Children” by Katharine B. Dalke
  • “Sex and Safety in the Digital Age” by Jack Harrison-Quintana
  • “That Ass Tho! Anal Health for the LGBT Community” by Adrian Shanker
  • “Gender, Cancer, and Me” by Liz Margolis
  • “Challenging HIV Stigma” by Sean Strub
  • “Caregiving Concerns for LGBT Older Adults” by Liz Bradury

And these are just some of the many that I enjoyed. Adrian Shanker is the editor as well as the writer of one of my favorite pieces, and he has done a great job in compiling and producing this collection. While a lot of these pieces were fairly depressing, I consider reading this book to be ending the year on a high note.

Would I Recommend It: Very much so. And consider supporting PM Press to get a copy.

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