By Amir Jones
I am a program associate with The Health Initiative, Georgia’s Voice for LGBTQ Health, and for years, we’ve worked closely with Forward Together around the Where to Start, What to Ask health guide for LGBTQ communities. I am honored to be a part of this project because there is a significant need in our communities for this resource.
The guide is pretty comprehensive, and at the same time, a great introduction for folks who have never purchased health insurance themselves. The guide specifically helps queer and trans people know what questions to ask about obtaining healthcare.
The guide not only uses terminology that is basic and easy for folks to understand, it is also reflective of the diversity of the queer and trans community. You don’t see one particular type of relationship. You don’t see one particular type of person or size. In that respect, I think the creators were very thoughtful in how to make it easy for us to distribute the guide.
I recall giving the guides to people at pride events and during smaller discussions. Every time I handed one out, it was an opportunity to give someone a thing, to put it in their hands. That way when it came time for them to apply, whether they wanted to talk to someone in person or do it by themselves, they had a resource readily available to help them through the process.
I recall a lot of community folks and service providers asking for copies so they could pass the guide out as well. The guide was designed to be accessible to and resonate with a variety of audiences. By providing actual language and terms for talking through the health insurance process, I think, made the guide even more desirable.
It still is. The guide still serves as a reminder to queer and trans folks that having a pathway to engage with healthcare services reform and to be represented in that process, an opportunity created by an organization like Forward Together, means that culture has shifted on some level. And that reminder is still wanted.
I think it’s important that we seize opportunities like the Where to Start, What to Ask guide to recognize and learn that we can interrupt negative images, negative feedback, and negative viewpoints, and instead actually show our communities in an affirming and positive manner. If nothing else had come from the guide, I think it’s so important that the guide was an opportunity for people to see themselves reflected back in a positive way.