Reflections on Pride: Calling attention to the unique needs of LGBTQ+ survivors of interpersonal and structural violence

The Source
By: Guest contributor, Mon May 31 2021

Pride 2021


Author: Guest contributor

Springer Nature aims to help in the fight for equality and inclusion on multiple fronts, as evidenced by our Black Lives Matter portal and commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG10: Reduced Inequalities and SDG5: Gender Equality. For Pride month we have reached out to some of our authors, editors, and researchers, asking them to reflect on the concept of 'Pride' and how they are helping in the ongoing fight for equity and inclusion, and how we, as a scholarly publisher, are contributing to these goals by publishing and distributing their research.

In this interview we speak with the co-editors of Violence Against LGBTQ+ Persons, Claire Burgess, Andy Johnson, and Emily Lund.

Please tell us about the nature of your work.
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Claire Burgess: My work asks the question: how can medical providers best interface with patients in a way that reduces stigma and increases engagement? Are there policies and procedures that have long been accepted as a standard practice that could benefit from tweaking? COVID-19 has taught us a lot about this, especially with regards to LGBTQ+ connection, human rights, and medical rights.

Andy Johnson: The purpose of my work is to empower mental health professionals to provide competent, culturally sensitive care to survivors of interpersonal violence at intersections of religion, ethnicity, culture, national origin, immigration status, disability/ability, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Emily Lund: My work focuses on the experiences of marginalized people, particularly LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, and people with multiple marginalized identities. I study trauma and violence in these populations and how that affects mental health. In my work, I look at both individual and systemic oppression and trauma.

What does ‘Pride’ mean to you personally?

Claire Burgess: Pride means an understanding of history and respect for the plight of all persons who came before who paved the way for my rights as a queer woman. It also means understanding the interface of culture, local policies, and what freedoms we’ve yet to celebrate (and what intersections those freedoms lie at).

Andy Johnson: Pride for me is a celebration of the lives, full humanity, and accomplishments of my LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors; a remembrance of courageous leaders who resisted the oppression and human rights violations of the culture at large; and a time to listen and understand more fully the steps that need to be taken next to ensure the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons are respected everywhere.

Emily Lund: Pride for me means that LGBTQ+ people can take pride in their identities and live in authentic ways without fear of oppression, violence, or discrimination. It is slow and ongoing process but progress has been and is still being made.

How have you and/or do you work directly to address the advancement of LGBTQ+ acceptance and equity?

Claire Burgess: Health equity is the ultimate goal, and for that to be present medical systems need to understand where gaps in access and engagement exist, to best target health disparities. Broader LGBTQ+ acceptance is an important step towards advancement.

Andy Johnson: I have worked with OutFront Minnesota in advancing human rights protections for LGBTQ+ persons by providing testimony before the Minnesota State Legislature and other groups concerning the research evidence of the harm inflicted on LGBTQ+ persons through the use of SOCE and GICE.

Emily Lund: On the institutional level, I serve on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) communities at the college and departmental levels, where we advocate for the rights and needs of students, staff, and faculty from marginalized groups, including LGBTQ+ individuals. On a national level, I often present on the intersection between disability and LGBTQ+ identity and the unique needs and experience of people who are both disabled and LGBTQ+.

How is this addressed in your research/work?

Claire Burgess: My work used to focus on health disparities, focusing on behavioral health in youth. Since working at VA and The Fenway Institute, my focus has shifted to examine stigma within healthcare settings and to attempt to break down barriers to care where they exist.

Andy Johnson: My teaching increasingly emphasizes how interpersonal violence violates the human rights of targeted persons.  Within the books I have edited, my focus has been on empowering voices of persons within oppressed and marginalized groups to explain relevant research findings, their implications, and make recommendations for practice, policy, and research concerning interpersonal violence experienced at intersections within their group. 

Emily Lund: My research examines the nature of and relationships between violence and mental health in LGBTQ+ people, in hopes that better understanding these issues will help us more effectively address them and better understand the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals and communities.

What are the short- and long-term goals of your work?

Claire Burgess: I seek in the short-term to ignite easy steps that healthcare systems can make for LGBTQ+ persons to get affirmative care. This starts with affirmative and inclusive education, for instance highlighting that nursing accreditation standards (ANA position statements 2015; 2018) dictate LGBTQ+ health be taught at all levels of training. The long-term goals of my research are to consider how to integrate intersectional trauma-informed care into all aspects of health care and thereby improve engagement from the moment a person “walks in the door.” Since COVID-19, there has been a shift in how and when we access care from a qualified professional, and whether that’s done online. In my work at VA, they have allowed specialized practice across state lines for many years with benefit (VA, 2018). Prior to COVID, LGBTQ patients would routinely travel or receive care from an out-of-state specialist that is medically necessary. The system needs reform, and I hope lessons from COVID will help alter regional medical licensing and telehealth coverage.

Andy Johnson:  A primary goal is to open the door for voices to be heard regarding interpersonal violence that otherwise face barriers, making it difficult for the dynamics of interpersonal violence at certain intersections to be brought to light.  A second goal is to assist authors in presenting the information in a way that mental health professionals in the mainstream cultures with limited background can assimilate and use effectively. The long-term goal is to take steps in the prevention and provision of competent, culturally informed treatment of diverse persons affected by interpersonal violence. 

Emily Lund: The primary long-term goal of my work is to understand and address the interplay between interpersonal and systemic oppression for LGBTQ+ people, especially those with multiple marginalized identities, and how those factors relate to mental health. Currently, I’m examining peer victimization in sexual minority college students and how sexual minority adults differ from their heterosexual peers in regards to different dimensions of suicidality (e.g., suicidal thoughts, plans, disclosure, and attempts). 

What do you think is the most productive way that researchers can engage policy makers? What has your experience been with policy engagement?

Claire Burgess: There are a few different avenues that come to mind. Increasingly you see researchers engaging policy makers through direct call-outs on social media. Contributing to and producing the evidence base of research that is used to make policy decisions is most productive. Giving feedback and problem solving within the systems (within academia, and health care) is yet another way to most closely evolve change.

Andy Johnson: I would refer the reader to the chapter by Haven Herrin and the chapter by Fitzsimons and Anklan in our book for suggestions.

Emily Lund: I think partnering with journalists and other media professionals to get our research to the public, including policy makers, in accessible and understandable forms is critical.

What does public engagement look like in your field and how important do you think it is for researchers to make a societal impact with their work?

Claire Burgess: Doing the work of writing, collaborating and publishing is one side of our commitment to advocacy. The other side is reporting when things aren’t right in our culture, in policies, and in our community. With use of technology, we are seeing researchers make a much greater impact and bridge the ivory tower-to-consumer barrier much more than before. Examples of this would be in use of Instagram or Twitter by professors, therapists, students. I’m very thankful for Emily Lund’s twitter! :p

Emily Lund: As I said earlier, I think partnering with the media to help accurately disseminate our work is key. I also think partnering with affected communities to make sure that our work actually addresses their needs and is accessible to members of those communities is critical.

Andy Johnson: I would echo what Claire Burgess and Emily Lund have said.

What progress would you like to see next towards addressing the advancement of LGBTQ+ acceptance and equity?

Claire Burgess: Certainly giving each transgender and gender diverse person control of their body in medical spaces would be a first step – taking politics out of medicine. The 2021 political initiatives we are seeing at the state level represent backsteps for many reasons. Most fundamentally, besides being a violation of human rights, they eradicate the notion of the medical community as a safe space in which a young person can be honest with their provider about what’s going on in their life and trust that their provider has their long-term wellness in mind. Biomedical ethics are at a progressive place to where extreme missteps like this have no place in our society. This question is all the more relevant since the disruption to transgender and gender diverse healthcare services within the context of COVID-19.

Andy Johnson: Integrating human rights education that includes the rights of LGBTQ+ persons at every level in the US educational system would be an important step in addition to the recommendations made by my colleagues.

Emily Lund: I think transgender and non-binary rights are at a critical point and need to be actively protected. I’d also like to see more recognition of representation of asexual and aromantic people within conversations both within and outside of academia and LGBTQ+ spaces. I would also like to see more recognition of the fact that LGBTQ+ people who are also members of other marginalized communities (e.g., BIPOC, disability) face additional barriers and prejudice and have unique experiences related to the intersections of those identities.

Explore more on Springer Nature's LGBTQ+ Pride hub

Other blogs you might find interesting in our 'Reflections on Pride' series:

About the authors

Emily Lund
Emily M. Lund is an Assistant Professor of Counselor Education in the department of Educational Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology, and Counseling at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Dr. Lund’s primary research interests include interpersonal violence and trauma in people with disabilities; suicide and non-suicidal self-injury in people with disabilities; the experiences of counseling and psychology graduate students with disabilities; and LGBTQ+ issues, particularly as they intersect with disability.

Claire M. Burgess
Claire M. Burgess is an Instructor at Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts, a clinical psychologist in private practice and working for VA Boston Healthcare System. Her passion lies in providing education to trainees, as she teaches nursing students and psychiatry residents topics such as cognitive behavioral therapy and LGBT health. She serves as an LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator, connecting veterans to services and providing education to staff and trainees across disciplines. Dr. Burgess assists organizations with trauma-informed care considerations for transgender and gender non-conforming patients. 

Andy J. Johnson
Andy J. Johnson teaches a variety of courses in the Department of Psychology at Bethel University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. His research interests center on the intersection of religion, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and ability/disability with interpersonal violence. Andy is on the Board for the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence (NPEIV), a member of the Policy Committee for OutFront Minnesota, and current member of American Psychological Association (APA) Division 44: Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.


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