Pronouns Are Small Words that Carry Huge Meaning

June 29, 2021

As a woman, have you ever been offended when someone on the phone called you “sir” based on the sound of your voice? Maybe someone said, “Excuse me, ma’am,” based solely on your long hair, not realizing you’re a man.

In those moments, it was important to you that your gender was properly acknowledged. It’s the same for those who are non-binary or who identify differently than the sex they were assigned at birth.

In 2016, a study from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimated that half of 1% of Americans — or about 2 million people — identify as transgender or gender nonconforming. More people are learning gender isn’t as static or definite as it was once thought to be, making it more important than ever to recognize and respect individual gender identity. Using the right pronouns is one of the easiest ways to do it.

List to do

Beyond binary

Generation X — those born between 1965 and 1980 — may have been the last generation wholly raised with traditional gender roles. Millennials — the next generation — are more than twice as likely to identify as LGBTQ+.

Man and woman. She and he. Him and her. Hers and his. Those words do not adequately identify individuals today. Ze, zir, zirself, hir, hirs, hirself have been added to the vocabulary along with the interchangeability of traditional pronouns. That’s because gender identity falls on a spectrum while gender is defined by the reproductive organs you were born with.

  • Genderfluid — People who are genderfluid may feel a mix of both genders. They might be more male on some days and more female on others.
  • Genderqueer — Gender nonconformists who deviate from the conventional norms for men and women. Some prefer to use the term, “gender non-conforming.”
  • Nonbinary — The gender identity is neither entirely female nor entirely male.
  • Transgender — Some individuals prefer the term, “trans.” Their gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

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Why pronouns matter

When we refer to someone by a pronoun — her or him — we make an assumption about their gender identity. That assumption is based, most often, on that person’s appearance or name. It’s not always correct and it always has the potential to do harm.

Using someone’s preferred personal pronoun is a very easy way to show them respect and to create an inclusive environment. It’s similar to using someone’s name to put them at ease.

The opposite can also be true. Intentionally using the wrong pronoun is harassing and offensive, just like intentionally mispronouncing someone’s name.

Capitol

Legislating discrimination

Republican state legislatures are making it easier to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ+ community. Laws have been passed barring gender reassignment treatment for people who choose it. High school-aged transgender athletes are being prohibited from participating in sports for the gender in which they identify. “Bathroom” bills restrict trans people to using facilities that align with the genders they were assigned at birth.

Making the effort to use proper pronouns, and taking the step to ask which pronouns someone prefers, goes a long way toward creating a more inclusive community. This is critical at a time when there are so many efforts to make hatred and discrimination acceptable or even legally protected as free speech.

Treating EVERYONE at AltaMed

AltaMed will never refuse treatment or offer a different level of treatment for people who are LGBTQ+IA+ . We are dedicated to the health and wellness of every community we serve, regardless of gender identity or orientation.

Our team is staffed with experienced professionals trained to withhold judgments and check assumptions. We provide professional confidential care and resources to help you live a long and healthy life.

Call our Patient Service Center in Los Angeles County at (323) 869-5448 or Orange County at (714) 500-0491.

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Supporting the LGBTQ+ Community Year Round

June 11, 2021

June is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community’s strides in civil rights and liberation as well as commemorating those lost in current and previous generations to hate, ignorance, and intolerance. It’s also a good time to examine the nuanced needs of the LGBTQ+ community, especially when it comes to health care, and how we as a community can make access to resources for all a reality.

Cultural stigma and in large part ignorance about the LGBTQ+ community has been one of the biggest hurdles in this journey. One vivid example of this still remembered and commemorated during Pride month is the AIDS epidemic. Health officials first became aware of AIDS in the summer of 1981, and by 1985 AIDS had already ravaged the United States for four years. Only then did President Ronald Raegan publicly acknowledge the AIDS epidemic that had already affected at least 15,527 people and killed more than 12,529.

While there has been some progress in recent years for more inclusive health care, there has also been a surge of dangerous efforts to undermine that progress in recent administrations of national and state government. AltaMed continues to provide services and work toward eliminating the disparities that affect the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups.

Addressing disparities

Boys at the beach

The LGBTQ community is identified as a “health disparity population” by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Systemic prejudice has historically kept many from receiving the care they need — from basic services like mental health to more complex treatments like care related to gender reassignment therapy and so much more. The issues are complex, and numbers are staggering.

According to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine:

  • LGBTQ Youth are four times more likely than straight youth to make a suicide attempt requiring medical attention.
  • LGBTQ Americans face an increased risk of violent attacks due to their sexual and gender status.
  • Nearly three-fourths of transgender people have been the victims of discrimination when seeking health care.
  • One in five transgender people have been denied care by a provider.
  • Transgender people are twice as likely to be unemployed compared to cisgender individuals.
  • Transgender people of color are four times as likely to be unemployed.
  • Mental health coverage for the LGBTQ community has decreased despite the increased need for mental health support.
  • Trans women of color account for four out of five anti-trans homicides.

Allies can offer support by working to understand the issues that disproportionately affect the LGTBQ+ community and continue to deconstruct the cultural stigma that still exists.

STI care, prevention, and support

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While anyone can contract HIV, most new cases each year are among gay and bisexual men according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are disparities here as well, with Black and Hispanic gay and bisexual men representing the majority of new diagnoses. Gay and bisexual men ages 13 to 34 also represent the majority of new cases each year. But like any sexually transmitted infection (STI), HIV is completely preventable.

There are new and numerous ways to prevent the transmission of STIs, HIV, and Hepatitis C, yet this increased risk is largely due to our education system’s shortcomings in effective sexual education. In addition to health education and information, AltaMed offers condoms, rapid HIV testing, STI screening, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Our HIV prevention specialists make these available and explain how all these options can minimize your risk and benefit your health.

AltaMed is one of the largest HIV service providers in Los Angeles and Orange counties serving more than 2,000 patients. Our multicultural and bilingual physicians and staff can help you explore your care options so you can make the best decisions that support your sexual health and overall well-being. AltaMed provides eligible patients with medical services, medications, and other important health and community resources at low or no cost.

If you are looking for ways to reduce your risk for HIV or if you received an HIV diagnosis and need help starting and stay in care, call our Patient Service Center in Los Angeles County at (323) 869-5448 or Orange County at (714) 500-0491.

More than 50 years in the community

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AltaMed was founded on the idea that everyone should have access to affordable care that’s close to home and reflects their community. That care is available to everyone, regardless of whom they love, how they identify, or where they come from.

Our dedicated team of caring and experienced professionals are here to provide communities with a lifetime of care. We build partnership with community organizations, elected officials, schools, and more to build communities that are better places to live, work, and play.

Follow this link to get started with AltaMed today.

Diverse Communities Need Care that Meets Their Diverse Needs

March 25, 2021

 This April, we hope you’ll join us to observe National Minority Health Month. The month-long initiative is geared toward building general awareness of common health conditions and risks that affect minority and ethnic populations. Besides engaging health care providers to offer more culturally sensitive and equitable care, the initiative also encourages individuals to take control of their health. When we learn about the conditions that may be more likely to affect us, we can make sure to schedule regular screenings and doctor visits.

doctor appointment minority health

Conditions That Are Genetic

In large part, your health is determined by the choices you make. Over time, decisions like whether to snack on a piece of fruit or a slice of cake, or go to sleep at the same time every night or stay up late to watch TV can have a significant impact. But some health conditions seem to run in families – and there are even diseases that are common depending on your ethnic background.

African Americans, for example, are at greater risk for sickle-cell disease. According to the  American Kidney Foundation, the Asian, Pacific Islander, and African American communities are at higher risk for gout.

One group providing the most remarkable example of the relationship between genetics and diseases are eastern European Jews. They are susceptible to a number of rare disorders like Bloom syndrome and Tay-Sachs disease, but they are also at increased risk for many cancers. All thanks to genetics.

Knowing your family history and having regular checkups and health screenings are key factors in the early detection of these conditions. Working with a trusted provider can help reduce your risks.

blood pressure minority health

Cultural and Lifestyle-Related Conditions

Some chronic health conditions and illnesses seem to disproportionately affect certain populations who don’t have a clear-cut genetic risk. For example, both Latinos and African Americans are more likely to have obesity and complications related to diabetes. Even though unhealthy lifestyle choices may be partially to blame, some of those choices are affected by long-term systemic inequities — unequal access to care, limited access to fresh, healthy produce, or lack of doctors who understand the unique health and cultural concerns of their patients.

Additionally, African Americans often live with diseases that don’t affect whites until they’re much older, such as high blood pressure and strokes. Latinos are also more likely to struggle with issues that include high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

AltaMed is working to address many of the health disparities that make these conditions all too common in our communities. However, you can still take action to protect yourself: exercise, eat a healthy diet that includes a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables, and see your doctor and dentist for regular screenings.

two women talking minority health

Beyond Physical Health

Mental health goes hand-in-hand with physical health when talking about overall wellness. Minority populations often won’t seek out mental health services because of a perceived stigma.

According to the 2017 California Well-Being Survey, most Asian-Americans reported a high level of self-stigma related to mental health, and Hispanics reported higher self-stigma than whites. Hispanics said they were also more likely to conceal mental illness from coworkers and classmates than whites. And socioeconomic issues keep Black Americans and Latinos from completing substance abuse programs more often than whites. But AltaMed provides services to help all populations deal with behavioral health and substance abuse issues.

Culturally Sensitive Care and Much More

When it comes to helping minority and ethnically diverse communities grow healthy, good care is only part of the equation. That’s why we are involved in local programs that support the creation of good-paying jobs, markets where people can buy fresh and healthy foods, and social services that help each individual achieve their potential.

To make an appointment with an AltaMed doctor and learn how to combat your potential health risks, call us at (888) 499-9303.