Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-10-02
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Fourth 'Do Ask, Do Tell' looks at health disparities
by Gretchen Rachel Hammond

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

The fourth annual "Do Ask, Do Tell" symposium, held at Rush University Medical Center's Searle conference facility on Oct. 9, focused primarily on the health needs that LGBTQ and veteran individuals face while examining how to create welcoming and safe environments in the services available to them.

The symposium's co-sponsors included the Rush Road Home Program, the Tawani Foundation, The Edward Hines, Jr. Veterans Administration, the Rush LGBTQ Health Committee of the Diversity Leadership Council and the World Professional Association for Trans Health (WPATH).

Following the Color Guard that the Chicago chapter of the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) provided and the national anthem sung by Jaimie Matthews, openly transgender Sgt. Shane Ortega provided the tenor of the day with his statements.

"There is a prevalence and need for post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] and anxiety care for our veterans," Ortega told Windy City Times. "Inclusion, cultural competency and sensitivity need to be integrated for transgender care for both actively serving guardsmen and reserve as well our veterans. Because of our professions, we are intrinsically trusted and valued as being not only knowledgeable and competent but also caring. As we go forward, our job is to look at these individuals and create a solution for problems. We're not there to be judge and jury but to continue on the humanist perspective of our society."

The Department of Defense (DoD) still denies open service for transgender members of the military. In July, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter tasked a six-month working group to start "with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness."

Ortega—who created the first trans-military organization which was then part of OutServe—said that he finds the ban on United States trans service members "baffling."

"It's unfathomable that we are so caveman-like in our thinking," he noted. "We're the greatest country in the world, yet we can't acknowledge people for their gender and sexuality. All this harping about bathrooms and gender neutral spaces is ludicrous and pedantic. If we stopped treating adult human beings like children, we wouldn't have child-like problems."

Ortega added that—despite his confident in forward progress for transgender soldiers in 2016—change, in terms of not only the military but the society it serves, hinges upon education "at every level from the top to the bottom to make sure we create positives waves outward."

One of the quintessential providers of that education has been the symposium's keynote speaker Professor and Associate Chair of Psychiatry at East Tennessee State University Dr. George R. Brown, MD, DFAPA.

With well over 110 published papers and contributions to 15 books along with his 2012 development of the largest database on transgender people in the world, Brown has forced open the door to quantifiable research into transgender issues particularly the health disparities faced by transgender veterans.

"From 2010 and earlier there is a grand total of three total papers," he told the audience. "Since that time a number of us have been working vigorously on producing more. It took 22-years to go from a [research] sample of eleven people to get to seventy. It shows how slow this field developed in terms of actual information, not anonymous survey data which is not the data I need when I want to develop knowledge of health disparities based on actual human beings."

From the seventy people Brown talked to individually, he noted that "three quarters of folks were using hormones often obtained illicitly while on active duty. The majority received illegal health care through the VA [Veterans Administration] prior to 2011. Sixty-one percent endured suicidal thoughts. One in 10 had a potentially lethal attempt."

"We were able to confirm a substantial increase in [transgender] suicide risk behaviors compared to the general VA population and the US population at large," Brown added. "The rate was twenty times higher than the general VA population. That is the highest number for any sub-population studied in the VA. We need federal coverage for the entire range of transgender healthcare, period. The DoD needs to move forward in 2016 with transgender inclusiveness. The time is right to do it and we need to do it now."

Tanya Friese, DNP, RN, CNL, USN (ret) serves as vice-chair for the Rush LGBTQ Heath Committee of the Diversity Leadership Council.

"The military community has come-out in terms of gay, straight, trans—it doesn't matter. If someone's got your back in a foxhole that's all that matters," Friese told Windy City Times. "Service members both active and retired don't want to see other service members dishonored for no good reason. If you are just being yourself and doing your job, it doesn't make any sense."

Other speakers included Palm Center Founder and Executive Director Aaron Belkin, Ph.D., and Howard Brown Health Center Director of Geriatric Education Cecilia Hardecker, RN.

For more information on American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER), visit

For more information or to get involved with the Rush LGBTQ Health Committee of the Diversity Leadership Council, contact committee chair Christopher Nolan at . For more information on the Tawani Foundation, visit .

For more information on WPATH and Rush Road Home Program, visit and, respectively. For more information on the Hines Veterans Administration, visit .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

New York State veterans' services trained in LGBTQ cultural competency 2019-10-02 - WASHINGTON — Today, the Modern Military Association of America ( MMAA ) — the nation's largest non-profit organization for the LGBTQ military and ...

Gay News

4th Circuit urged to to uphold crder preventing discharge of HIV-positive airmen 2019-09-18 - ( Richmond, VA, September 18, 2019 ) — Today, lawyers for two active-duty Airmen who are living with HIV urged a three-judge panel ...

Gay News

Gay Korean war era veteran honored by Chicago Cubs 2019-08-27 - Jim Darby, Korean War veteran and the founder of the Chicago chapter of the American Veterans for Equal Rights ( originally named Gay, ...

Gay News

Military Experts, Medical Groups, HIV Advocates Oppose Discharge Policy for HIV-Positive Airmen 2019-07-26 - New York, NY — July 26, 2019 ) — Military leaders, medical associations, public health groups, and HIV advocates joined three friend-of-the court ...

Gay News

WORLD Alan Turing, Theresa May, UN expert, South Korea military 2019-07-16 - The Bank of England will honor the late gay mathematician/codebreaker Alan Turing on the 50-pound note, LGBTQ Nation reported. After World War II, ...

Gay News

House passes Military Non-Discrimination Amendment 2019-07-11 - WASHINGTON July 11, 2019 — By a vote of 242-187, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a non-discrimination amendment to the National ...

Gay News

High court workplace cases affect LGBTQ veterans, military families, national security 2019-07-03 - WASHINGTON — Today, the Modern Military Association of America ( MMAA ) — the nation's largest non-profit organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, ...

Gay News

City salutes LGBT veterans, Army veteran speaks for trans military service 2019-06-26 - The City of Chicago held the annual Salute to LGBT veterans, "Liberty and Justice for All," at Daley Plaza on Tuesday, June 25. ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Kamala Harris, military poll, gay-bar attack, Cracker Barrel 2019-06-25 - Presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris is introducing a bill to reduce the transmission of HIV by encouraging the use of PrEP, or ...

Gay News

Court lets Trump anti-trans ban stand, and orders new review 2019-06-15 - On June 14, the The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed President Trump's ban on transgender members of the military to stand—setting ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.