Summit

Politics and LGBTQ Health

A common theme lately is politics.  The impact of various pieces of legislation and policies on LGBTQ health.  The election of LGBTQ people to public office.  Actions taken to resist harmful policies and political trends.

Now, the GLMA Nursing Section wants to hear from you!  What experiences do you have to share on the relationship between politics and LGBTQ health?  Please take the poll below and let us know!

 

Political Experiences, Interests, and LGBTQ Health

On Being Inclusive

One of the things we strive for, given our mission, is to be inclusive within the Nursing Section.  That makes sense, as we are working to ensure that our health systems are inclusive of and responsive to all across the gender and sexual spectra.  Since we’re a group of humans, though, it is definitely a work in progress.

At this past Summit in Philadelphia, I was ecstatic to meet a couple of LPNs in attendance.  Having spent the first part of my clinical career in sub-acute and long-term care, I have a healthy respect for the knowledge and expertise of LPNs and the role they play in those settings.  In New England, it seems this is the primary area, along with home care, that LPNs remain a strong presence, as many hospitals have adopted RN-only policies, but I gathered from those I met at the Summit that this is not the case in other regions of the country.  LPNs and LVNs are part of our front-line of patient care, and we need them as much as any other nurse to help in this work.

We definitely want to make sure we’re inclusive of all our nurses, from LPN/LVN through APRN.  But I also heard from those nurses that they weren’t sure how they would be received, as their perception was that the Nursing Section is primarily for RNs, and particularly RNs in academia.  That’s not a perception that I think any of us want or intend to be projecting!

One item I identified as an obvious (and easy-to-fix) cue was our Twitter handle.  Originally, it was the Twitter handle of the research work group, so GLMA_RNs was intended to capture both the fact we were “research nurses” and that the group at the time was composed entirely of “registered nurses.”  Since that has evolved, and now that Twitter handle is for the whole section, however, that wordplay is obsolete and the handle definitely signals “we’re all RNs here.”  So it has been changed, and you can now find us on Twitter at @GLMA_Nsg .

If you are an LPN or LVN or just have thoughts on how we can be more inclusive of all nurses, please share those thoughts in the comments.

The Joy and Challenge of Diversity

There is no doubt that in the GLMA Nursing Section we see more diversity than in any other gathering of nurses!  Every time we come together, I have the exhilarating experience of being among my own people – people who are living and showing to the world who we are from the inside out!  I happen to be a cisgender lesbian who by any

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Peggy circa 1984

honest account can “pass” in the heteronormative majority world, although many of my friends guffaw and protest when I claim that this is so!  In most nursing gatherings, we see many strong women, and some men, who, while conforming to many norms of gender “presentation,” still show postures, behaviors, words and actions that clearly conform to mainstream hetero-reality of male-ness and female-ness. Do not get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with this particular presentation of self – the problem is that there is a certain conformity that makes those who “deviate” from the “norms” stand out as different.  When we gather as a GLMA nursing Summit, the tables are almost turned, wherein we see, and celebrate, so many expressions of identity that the “norm” is close to a minority!  For most of us there, we revel in the sense of being in the company of others who are showing our truth in visible ways – not to challenge any social or cultural norm, but simply to be who we are!

Despite the utter joy and celebration of this and other LGBTQIA gatherings, it is important to recognize the challenges that come along for the ride.  Together we represent not one, but many cultures – networks of others who fit (or mostly fit) where we are situated in the alphabet soup.  All of us are challenging the dominant hetero-normative cultures in some way – even, and especially, our allies.  But each of our alphabet groups have experiences, understandings, views of the world that emerge from their own particular identity.  I believe we may have more in common with one another than differences, but for me, it still it tends to come as a surprise when I recognize the significant differences that I had not yet imagined.  It is clear that each of us simply has a different “understanding” of the world. I know that I am still learning what it means to live in the spaces of identity that express who I am.  I recognize that despite my 40+ years of being completely “out” as a lesbian, I am still a beginner – I am still learning the nuances, the language, the possibilities faced by each person whose identity is different from mine.  As I experience the Summit, it seems clear that we are taking on the horrendous challenges of communicating with one another, being sensitive to one another’s experiences, and exercising the gentle art of generosity of spirit for those who are not yet “savvy” to another person’s particular ways of being.  Sometimes I cringe when someone makes a “mistake” (such as using the wrong pronouns) – sometimes I cringe when I realize I made a “mistake” (such as using the wrong pronouns)!!  But at least I cringe!!  This is what makes it possible to move on, coming to a space where we become more confident in our own identities, while celebrating and appreciating the rich diversities of others!

Despite these challenges  – what a gift, a true delight, a rare and wonderful time it is when we come together (no pun intended!!!).  If you are reading this and were not able to be in Philadelphia this year – plan now for Las Vegas – October 10th, and the GLMA conference through October 13th!  I certainly plan to be there and hope you can too!