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Kelli Dunham, RN, Creates 'You Don't Have to Love Your Body to Take Care Of It' Zine

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For those in the LGBTQ community, accessing healthcare can be difficult. To help people who identify as lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual or genderqueer get the medical attention they need and deserve, Kelli Dunham, RN, created the zine, “You Don’t Have to Love Your Body to Take Care Of It.”

“This zine is basically coaching in a different form,” Dunham explained. “Trying to both translate the way the healthcare system works for people and also share suggestions, tricks, tips of how to seek care and things that have worked for other people.”

In Dunham’s 20-plus years experience being a nurse, Dunham said they’ve been asked from countless friends and others in the community, whether or not an injury or illness warrants medical attention. “In my comedy act I talk about lesbians and softball injuries that they never want to go to the hospital for, ‘Oh that bone was already sticking out of my skin before we started the game,’” Dunham said. “It’s a joke and a cliche, but it comes from real life, because when people are seeking care they are coming in general discomfort with the healthcare system. Plus they may be dealing with trauma around their bodies, and even past interactions with the healthcare system that have caused trauma.”

There are many issues LGBTQ people might face when trying to access health care. “One a large scale, the biggest issue is that we have less access because we’re less likely to be insured,” Dunham told The Mighty. Another issue is a lack of inclusion: “When I talk with primary care providers, I always say ‘Good care for LGBT people is good care for everyone,’ and although that is an oversimplification, it is in many ways true.”

One way the medical community can help the LGBTQ community is by using more inclusive language. Instead of asking someone if their husband or wife is their proxy, Dunham said, ask who supports them. “Asking about preferred versus legal name is often a life and death matter for trans folks,” Dunham added. “For example, if you’re providing care for a trans man and call out a generally understood to be female name into the waiting room, you may have outed him to the entire room.”

Everyone deserves health care, Dunham said:

If your body is limiting what you want to do, it’s seems like a pretty normal reaction to get annoyed at that. If your left elbow causes you to be in excruciating pain pain every day, you might not want to write a Valentine’s Day card for your left elbow, y’know? But it doesn’t make our bodies any less deserving, just because we don’t love them. Bodies that give us a hard time need care too.

You can download a copy of “You Don’t Have to Love Your Body to Take Care Of It” here.

Originally published: April 3, 2017
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