Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health. Adrian Shanker, Ed. PM Press, 2020. ISBN: 978-1-62963-784-6. 256 pages. $20.00.
I hope you never need to read this book. I hope you never get sick and have to navigate the most convoluted healthcare system in the world. But if you do, this collection of short essays might just save your life. And if you work in healthcare, Bodies, and Barriers should be at the very top of your must-read list.
Queer folk have long been aware of the disparities and challenges in securing adequate healthcare. Whether you’re fighting for your life in a doctor’s office, an emergency room, or a state legislature, this book is an invaluable resource. And it’s aimed at everyone from teens to seniors, trans to cis, men and women.
I was at first astounded at the breadth of issues addressed in this volume—mental health, transgender pediatric care, homelessness, addiction, suicide, HIV/AIDS, physician attitudes toward bisexuality, smoking cessation, caregiving for the elderly. There is even an essay titled, “That Ass Tho! Anal Health for the LGBT Community.”
But this collection is much more than catchy chapter titles (“Beyond Duct Tape: Binding for Transmasculine Youth”). Through artfully articulated, data-informed essays by twenty-six well-known and emerging queer activists—including Alisa Bowman, Jack Harrison-Quintana, Liz Margolies, Robyn Ochs, Sean Strub, Justin Sabia-Tanis, Ryan Thoreson, Imani Woody, and more—Bodies and Barriers illuminates the health challenges LGBT people experience throughout their lives and challenges conventional wisdom about health care delivery. It probes deeply into the roots of the disparities faced by those in the LGBT community and provides crucial information to fight for health equity and better health outcomes.
The contributors to Bodies and Barriers look for tangible improvements, drawing from the history of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and from struggles against health care bias and discrimination. At a galvanizing moment when LGBT people have experienced great strides in lived equality, but our health as a community still lags, here is an indispensable blueprint for change by some of the most passionate and important health activists in the LGBT movement today.
Editor Adrian Shanker is an award-winning activist and organizer whose career has centered on advancing progress for the LGBT community. He has worked as an arts fundraiser, labor organizer, marketing manager, and served as President of Equality Pennsylvania for three years before founding Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, PA, where he serves as executive director. An accomplished organizer, Adrian has led numerous successful campaigns to advance LGBT progress through municipal nondiscrimination and relationship recognition laws and laws to protect LGBT youth from conversion therapy. A specialist in LGBT health policy, he has developed leading-edge health promotion campaigns to advance health equity through behavioral, clinical, and policy changes.