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Elevating the Voices of Black Cisgender Women in the Reproductive Health Movement

September 18, 2015

The reproductive justice community must elevate the reproductive healthcare needs of black sexual minority cisgender women.  But what exactly are those healthcare needs?

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National Black Justice Coalition’s Out on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit

As I listened to an Out on the Hill Black LGBTQ Leadership Summit panel, where I heard from policy experts including the National LGBTQ Task Force’s own Stacey Long Simmons discuss this very topic, I realized that before this discussion I did not really know what the specific reproductive health care needs of this community were. This realization shocked me.  As a black heterosexual cisgender woman, I have spent the better part of my academic and professional career studying the intersections of race, gender and sexuality, and I have specifically focused my energy on ensuring that black women, regardless of their sexuality and gender identity, have access to the reproductive care that they need.  But, today I learned that I really need to dive deeper to learn from and advocate for the minority groups within larger minority groups.

This panel discussed several key healthcare needs that black sexual minority cisgender women need.  First, one panelist, a M.D., made a cry for credible research.  She declared, “There is no credible research around the health of lesbian [and bisexual] women.”  This obviously is a problem.  Before necessary public policies can be enacted to help the sexual minority cisgender female community, research must be completed to determine what healthcare needs actually exist.  Also, a panelist made a call for more culturally competent healthcare providers who can actually provide care without stigmatization.  Another panelist argued that insurance providers need to understand the unique healthcare needs of black sexual minority women so that these women can access the proper healthcare that they need without extreme financial burden.

These are just three areas that must be addressed before black sexual minority cisgender women will be able to receive competent reproductive healthcare.  The reproductive rights movement needs to recognize that a reproductive-rights-for-all narrative is great but still is still not inclusive of the plight than many minorities (whether race, gender, sexual, or a myriad of other differences) within the reproductive rights community face.  We must learn from each other and advocate for each other.  Only then will there be a chance of comprehensive reproductive healthcare for all.

Let’s get started.

by Candace Bond-Theriault, National LGBTQ Task Force Policy Counsel, Reproductive Rights

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