We're steadily creating a resource center that will provide resources across a variety of LGBT aging topics. Tell us what you'd like to see and sign up for updates.
LGBTQ Breast Health & Awareness: An Interview with Elijah Grossman, Susan G. Komen Puget Sound
December 2016 | Elijah Grossman, MSW (he/him/his), Community Advocate, Susan G. Komen Puget Sound
Our research indicates that 31% of the local LGBTQ community typically either delays or never seeks preventive care such as mammography, pap tests, STI testing, etc. Transgender and gender non-conforming people are much less likely to seek preventive care than cisgender sexual minority women. In fact, 41% of transgender men, 39% of gender non-conforming people, and 29% of transgender women typically delay or never seek preventive care compared to 21% of cisgender sexual minority women.
Telll us a little bit about your background and professional life.
I have been an LGBTQ rights activist and advocate for a decade, most recently serving as a member of the LGBT Commission for the City of Seattle. I earned my undergraduate degree in Sociology from Virginia Tech and recently graduated from the University of Washington with a Master of Social Work degree with a concentration in Community-Centered Integrative Practice, meaning I work with community-based organizations to create systemic change.
As a transgender man, the LGBTQ community’s access to equitable health care is near to my heart. I transitioned socially, medically, and legally in rural Virginia where I literally had to drive over 100 miles to find a doctor willing to treat me. I have always been incredibly open throughout my journey because I want to help folks understand what it is like to navigate the world as a transgender person.
Now I am amplifying more voices from the LGBTQ community in my career as a Community Advocate at Susan G. Komen Puget Sound where we are developing an LGBTQ breast health toolkit to supplement LGBTQ cultural sensitivity curricula. We hope that by increasing provider knowledge about the LGBTQ community we will help bridge trust between the community and the health care system, thereby increasing the rate that the LGBTQ community accesses preventative care such as mammography while also working toward systemic change that increases broader health equity for the LGBTQ community.
You recently conducted research on Breast Cancer and the LGBTQ Community. What were some of the key findings from this research?
Komen Puget Sound knew from external research that the risk for breast cancer is high for sexual minority women, and our 2015 Community Profile Report examining underserved populations in the Puget Sound area highlighted that the local LGBTQ community faces several barriers when accessing health care including social stigma around LGBTQ identities and a lack of cultural sensitivity from health care providers. In order to increase health equity for the LGBTQ community, Komen Puget Sound plans to develop an LGBTQ breast health toolkit with breast health education components for the LGBTQ community and cultural sensitivity components for health care providers. Our first step was to learn more about the experiences of the LGBTQ community when accessing heath care in Washington State, and these are some of the findings:
Were there any findings that surprised you?
Yes! Over half of participants in our research indicated that they always see a health care provider who either specializes in LGBTQ health or who is sensitive to LGBTQ identities. However, even when only looking at data from participants who always see an LGBTQ-friendly provider, just 29% rated their provider as “excellent” in the provider’s ability to understand the patient’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation.
In fact, 34% of people who always go to an LGBTQ-friendly provider rated that provider as neutral, poor, or very poor in their ability to understand the patient’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation. These numbers are even grimmer when we look at the entire sample, but surprisingly not by much. This highlights how much room for growth there is in LGBTQ cultural sensitivity in health care systems and the need for training in medical school.
How can LGBT Older Adult Service Organizations and LGBT Community Centers support Breast Cancer Awareness and Screenings?
How can people learn more about your research?
You can check out the full report on LGBTQ health care experiences in Washington State for free here. If you are interested in learning more about the plans for our LGBTQ breast health toolkit or interested in joining our coalition please contact me at email@example.com or (206) 633-0303 ext. 106. We would love participation and feedback from as many people and identities as possible, particularly from people of color and from the transgender and gender non-conforming community!
© 2011-2017 Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint these articles, or post them online, please e-mail us.