BELFAST – People gathered Friday in town to discuss issues facing the LGBTQ+ community here in Maine.
The 5th annual LGBTQ + health care conference focused on rural health.
During the sessions, people got together with the goal of strengthening connections between health care providers and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“Oftentimes providers are less fluent in things like pre-exposure prophylaxis to reduce HIV risk or hormonal placement therapy-specific things an LGBT person might need, so we’re trying to elevate some resources,” Health Equity Alliance’s Director of LGBTQ+ Services Maddy Magnuson said.
She also mentioned how Mainers who are part of the LGBTQ+ community frequently have to travel far distances to find providers that fit their needs.
“In rural areas, folks might not be out yet and so to go into a healthcare provider even to get something like an HIV test. I had done outreach testing for someone who was a nurse, so they had access to the health care system but they were in a rural area and they were like ‘I don’t want to be getting tested every three or six months because I’m afraid of the stigma that might have,'” Magnuson said.
Breakout panels focused on providing reproductive healthcare to those who identify as transgender, improving healthcare access through telehealth and key ingredients to building resilience in LGBTQ + youth in rural areas of the state.
Alivia Moore, the founder of the Wabanaki Two Spirit Alliance also added that the problems the LGBTQ+ community face are also found within indigenous communities.
“At the core of being able to achieve wellness and health for LGBTQ+ indigenous people and two-spirited is for nonnative people to take on the process of decolonization and to end our system of oppression,” Moore said.