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Report about Public Health Preparedness and LGBTQ Communities

I have been involved in LGBTQ health research for many years now. First with HIV and now with issues related to pandemic and disaster preparedness.  An important aspect of early HIV activity was the involvement of community members in the absence of institutional assistance. Act-Up and similar groups provided important information and resources when other community and governmental entities failed or refused to. I believe that LGBTQ communities should consider similar measures when it comes to issues related to pandemics and other hazards that can harm LGBTQ communities. 

To learn more about the public health preparedness within LGBTQ communities I sought to talk to people at LGBTQ community/medical organizations about their plans and resources regarding preparedness concerning natural and human-caused hazards.  I also used this opportunity to talk to them about their activities and thoughts regarding the Anti-LGBTQ legislation and activity happening in the US.  I believe that these activities could negatively impact the operations of these organizations and the well-being of community members just as much as a snowstorm or tornado.  I wanted to learn what organizations are doing and their planning and preparation actions.  The results would help me move forward to better understand what preparedness needs LGBTQ organizations and communities need. 

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Links to Material from Trans in the CLE Workshop

Mentoring program for trans and non-binary scholars

This year Sociologists for Trans Justice is starting a mentoring program for trans and non-binary scholars!

It will pair trans and non-binary assistant professors and advanced graduate students with colleagues of any gender who can provide advice and support during the early years of the mentee’s career. Our hope is that those mentors and mentees who will be in Montreal for the ASA annual meetings will meet up for coffee or a drink on their own and/or around LGBTQ Caucus meetings, and then continue their conversations throughout the year.

We *really* need mentors to make this work, so if you are a sociologist and willing to mentor an assistant professor or advanced graduate student, *please* volunteer (and let us know on the form if you’re willing to mentor more than one person). The amount of time is not too onerous and it really makes a difference to young scholars and, through their development, the section.

If you are willing to volunteer as a mentor, please fill out this form by July 22nd

If you are a trans or non-binary assistant professor or advanced graduate student who would like to participate in the program, please fill out this form  by July 22nd

Mentees, please note that we broke down different types of mentorship on the survey. The more specific you are with your mentorship needs, the better we will be able to match you with a mentor that can guide you on a specific research project, career path or other issues like work/family balance or the challenges of being an underrepresented minority in academia.

Direct any questions to Emilia Lombardi (

Thanks for your interest and participation!

The Committee on Advancing Trans and Non-Binary Scholars in Sociology (part of Soc 4 Trans Justice) (including Emilia Lombardi, Jennifer Pearson, Zachary Palmer, and Natalie Ingraham) has designed our mentoring program to address these challenges.  Please take part!

There is a role for activism in academia and research: ACT-UP as an example.

The Controversy surrounding Rebecca Tuvel’s article in the pages of Hypatia brings to my mind the activity involving the publication of the Man Who Would Be Queen (MWWBQ) by J Michael Bailey.  I’ve discussed this book with others in a podcast available here, and is also discussed in Alice Dreger’s Book Galileo’s’ Middle Finger so I won’t be discussing it further except to highlight an issue that both brings to mind.   What role do community members and community members who are themselves academics) have in in the production and discussion of academic work.

Those supporting Dr. Tuvel’s  and Bailey’s works view the critiques as being unwarranted and unwanted with some equating their actions with that of a Witch Hunt and the Catholic Church during the dark ages.   As if people of color and trans people have the kind of institutional power as either Puritan leaders of Salem or the Catholic Church.  Both these reactions are dismissive and do little to minimize the tension between groups.  Rather than these examples I would point people to another example, that of AIDS activists and biomedical researchers.

ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) arose to confront the discrimination and stigma people with HIV/AIDS were experiencing.  Their actions put them against politicians (especially the Reagan Administrations and Senator Jesse Helms), but also pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and researchers.  They spent much energy protesting and advocating for community representation and involvement in how new drugs are tested and made available to those in need.  The results of their actions led to the inclusion of those affected by HIV/AIDS in having a say in how HIV/AIDS work is done.  This is not to say that the actions of ACT-UP were always constructive.  I don’t think placing a giant condom over Senator Helm’s house helped change some people’s mind.  What did help was that there were officials and researchers who did listen and helped ACT-UP bring about changes to support both HIV/AIDS activists and the conduct of research to the betterment of both communities.

This is where my perspective begins.  My work in trans health research was greatly influenced by this and career involved working with community members in the conduct of health research and programs.  So I wonder why other fields are so hesitant in hearing critiques from others.  Yes, some critiques are harsh and there are poor responses from people on multiple sides, but that doesn’t negate the need to respond to the criticism.  I’ve had my share of harsh criticisms that upset me.  I had moments that I was so angry at people’s reactions and wanted to respond in kind.  This is why people stress the need for cultural humility when doing work that involves other communities.  To focus on the needs of others rather than my own needs, which is easier said than done, is still important to strive for.

I empathize with Rebecca Tuvel’s plight as an assistant professor who is just beginning her career.  I wish to advise her to take this experience and rather than build a wall between herself and her critics, to reach out, listen, and to work with them.  To develop the humility that one’s perspective isn’t always correct.  To take the example of Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, an HIV researcher and NIH official who many activists at the time called a murderer.  Rather than be defensive and ignore them he chose to work with many of the people who called him names.

And for the editors of Hypatia and others, if you were concerned for the plight of junior academics I would focus your actions more broadly and include those academics of color, trans academics, and other academics from marginalized communities and to improve your competency when it comes to issues and works involving those communities.  If Dr. Tuvel received better guidance from editors and reviewers she wouldn’t have had to go through these experiences in the first place.





My poster on LGB smoking for the National LGBTQ Health Conference 2017 #LGBTQHealthconf

The Impact Of Social Cohesion and Distress On The Health Of Race/Ethnic, and Lesbian, Gay, And Bisexual People


Social stress theory posits that minority status (race/ethnic and LGB) can impact both coping resources and health outcomes. The study examines the role social cohesion plays in the health of race/ethnic and lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) populations using data from the 2013-2015 National Health Interview Survey.

The NHIS is a multistage, area probability sample design and is a nationally representative health survey of US noninstitutionalized, civilian population conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. The total number of cases in all three waves was 104928. Analysis was done using R (v 3.3.3) and Rstudio (v 1.0) for windows. In order to properly analyze NHIS’s sampling design the analysis utilized the Survey package developed by Thomas Lumley for use with surveys with complex sampling designs.

Race/ethnic and sexual minorities reported less social cohesion than white and heterosexual participants, and social cohesion was negatively related to measures of distress, and smoking more than a pack of cigarettes a day.

These findings support the theory in that minority groups have reduced people’s social resources (in this case social cohesion).  Lower levels of social cohesion indicates having not as many social connections and relationships with people their neighborhood.  The experience of being a race/ethnic or sexual minority means isolated from other social relationships, which could impact their access to coping resources like social support. This creates a situation very different from that experienced by White heterosexual men and women.

PDF of my poster:  LGBTQ Health Conference 2017 Lombardi

AJPH is reprinting my 2001 essay “Enhancing Transgender Health Care”

I wrote “Enhancing Transgender Health Care” around 2000 when I was finishing a post-doc at UCLA.  It was the time when I was just beginning my academic/research career there were very few people doing trans related work let alone being trans identified as well.  The public health field was beginning to take Trans health issues seriously; The American Journal of Public Health also published an important needs assessment of trans women and HIV and the the American Public Health Association published a policy statement in 1999 supporting greater support for trans research and clinical care.

Since then there has been slow improvement in regards to trans health issues thanks to the growing number of trans health activists, academics, and clinicians and allies.  There has been movement in the inclusion of trans measures in national health surveillance (it has been included in HIV surveillance for awhile) and health plans are beginning to include trans health care.  That is not to say that everything is going well.  While things have been improving for some, many trans people (especially trans women of color) still experience an excessive amount of discrimination and violence.

The change in administration may also mean reduced support (if not reversal) of many of the trans supportive activities that has happened in the past eight years (Thanks Obama!).  The growing trend of legislation preventing trans people access to public accommodations based on their gender (“bathroom bills”) is also troubling.

So, while I’m happy to see an older paper of mine get new life, it is a reminder to me of what more needs to be done and in defending what has already been accomplished.

Interview with Robert Garofalo MD, MPH Editor-in-Chief of Transgender Health

Transgender Health is one of the newer Journals publishing original research on transgender health issues.  Robert Garofalo is its Editor-in-Chief and has been involved in transgender health research as well as providing health care to transgender people for many years.  We talk about the journal and about trans health research in general.  The journal is looking for data driven manuscripts, short reports, and perspectives.

Interview with Cat Fitzpatrick, Poetry Editor of Topside Press

Bio (from her website):  Cat Fitzpatrick teaches literature and politics at Rutgers University – Newark.  Facilitates the Trans Poets Workshop NYC. Editor at Topside Press. Writes poems, makes zines, organizes events. Her book, Glamourpuss, is due out October 2016.

Inaugural Trans Women’s Writing Workshop

Hosted by the LGBTQ Resource Center and the English Department at Brooklyn College August 15-19, 2016

Twenty-six writers were carefully chosen by a panel of trans women in and around the publishing industry. These writers will get to study in two sections taught by Sarah Schulman and Casey Plett, and will be showcased in readings around the city.

2016 Trans Women Writing Workshop – Donate to the Access Fund

Interview with Alana Jochum, Executive Director of Equality Ohio

This is an interview I did Alana Jochum, Executive Director of Equality Ohio last month.

We talked about a legislative actions that have been and will be occurring this summer, notably Equality Ohio’s Summer of Action.   Since the interview Cleveland City Council approved and the Mayor signed the legislation that changes the city’s anti-discrimination policy to protect people on the basis of their gender identity and expression in public accommodations.

More information on what Equality Ohio has been doing can be found on their website.

Information on their summer of action can be found here, and on Facebook