Why should the LGBTQ+ community care about comprehensive access to reproductive health care? Because complete liberation includes being fully in charge of your own body and ability to plan your family, as Candace Bond-Theriault with the National LGBTQ Task Force tells us.
Reproductive health and the LGBTQ+ community are often talked about separately, but both groups intersect, and oftentimes fight the same battles for the same populations. Bodily autonomy, the ability to plan if and when you have children, the ability to plan your pregnancy and family without government intrusion, and avoiding societal oppression and discrimination are issues that intertwine the LGBTQ+ community with reproductive health.
For example, the LGBTQ+ community is too often misrepresented, ignored, or discriminated against in many school’s sexual education programs. While some states are more inclusive than others, sex-ed programs are severely lacking; only nine states in the United States mandate sex education that offers inclusive information on sexual orientation, while three states offer negative information on sexual orientation. Other states don’t mandate that sexual orientation be discussed in sex education at all.
HIV/AIDS, another reproductive health and LGBTQ+ topic, is rarely discussed in an intersectional sphere. The discussion of HIV/AIDS in the United States that has become explicitly male-centric; the focus on men having sex with other men often leaves other HIV-positive LGBTQ+ community members out of the conversation. Extreme focus on prevention rather than treatment and the ability to live and thrive with HIV is highly stigmatizing. The topic has become queered to the point that many assume that HIV only affects the LGBTQ+ community, and only the males within it.
There are many barriers that exist within the healthcare system that limit LGBTQ+ people from accessing comprehensive primary and reproductive healthcare due to discrimination. This is on top of pre-existing barriers that are present in the United States’ healthcare system, including religious refusals, the Hyde Amendment, and state limitations on access to abortion, contraception, and emergency contraception. There needs to be a broader scope in the consideration of who needs these services. Many assume that birth control and abortion are only needed by cis-gendered women with vaginas, and that may not always be the case. These services are often provided based on a dual-gendered dichotomy rather than an individual’s body and their health needs.
There is also a heavy focus on violence against women, but rarely is violence applied to the context of the LGBTQ+ community. It is no question that there is violence perpetrated against the community, but there exists violence within the community as well.
All of these topics that are applicable to the LGBTQ+ community are intersectional with reproductive health. We need to ensure that LGBTQ+ concerns and reproductive health are talked about together, and this want of intersectionality can be alleviated by both organizations and individuals by restructuring non-profit funding so that newer voices can be heard as well as listening and evaluating individual’s stories before acting.
Links from this episode
National LGBTQ Task Force
The National LGBTQ TaskForce on Facebook
The National LGBTQ TaskForce on Twitter
Candace Bond-Theriault on Twitter
Queering Repro Justice Toolkit
Report: Rethinking LGBTQ Policy Series: Policy Recommendations For Gun Violence Prevention Using A Racial, Disability, And LGBTQ Justice Framework