Highlighting LGBT+ Trailblazers

From Christine Burns to Laverne Cox to Lord Michael Cashman, VP Education Sharanya celebrates the incredible trailblazers who have worked tirelessly to defend the LGBT+ community.

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This year, the theme for LGBT+ History Month is Medicine #UnderTheScope, which focuses on the contribution that queer people have had within healthcare and shining a light on the inequalities they face to this day.

Around one in eight LGBT+ people have experienced unequal treatment from healthcare staff because of their identity. One in seven have avoided treatment for fear of discrimination. With this blog, I wanted to shine a light on queer trailblazers within healthcare!

Dr Mags Portman? 

Dr Mags Portman is a pioneer within the sexual health sector, specifically for her advocacy work for access and usage of pre-exposure prophylaxis medication (PrEP) to reduce incidence of HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom. Portman has been attributed with preventing thousands of new HIV diagnoses through her work ensuring PrEP accessibility. 

Lord Michael Cashman? 

Lord Cashman is a former actor, member of the House of Lords, and founded LGBTQ+ rights charity Stonewall. 

Alan L. Hart?

(Also known as Robert Allen Bamford Jr)  

Alan L. Hart was an American physician, radiologist, tuberculosis researcher, writer, and novelist. He was one of the first trans men to undergo a hysterectomy in the United States. He pioneered the use of x-ray photography in tuberculosis detection and helped implement TB screening programmes that saved thousands of lives. 

Tracy MyHill OBE? 

Tracy made an outstanding contribution to LGBT equality during her time in chief executive, deputy chief executive and HR director roles. She encouraged and inspired people to discuss LGBT issues within Swansea and Cardiff and Vale Health Boards and across the UK Ambulance Sector ensuring board level commitment and LGBT staff networks were actively involved in the decision making process. 

Christine Burns MBE? 

Christine is a British political activist known for her work with Press for Change, a key lobbying and legal support organisation for trans people in the UK. She fights for transgender rights, helped put together new employment legislation and the Gender Recognition Act and wrote the first ever official guidance on trans health for the Department of Health and Social Care. 

Barbara Gittings? 

In the 1950s, very few people came out to their private circles, let alone publicly. But?Barbara Gittings?was different — she was vocal, focused, and hellbent on advancing LGBTQIA+ rights.? 

In the '50s, she founded the New York chapter of the?Daughters of Bilitis, the first national organisation for lesbians. The DOB provided support and education to lesbians who were afraid to come out, providing education and resources around their rights. 

The organisation also worked with psychologists, sociologists, and other?mental health professionals?to conduct clinical research to debunk stereotypes that being gay was synonymous with being mentally ill.? 

“Equality means more than passing laws. The struggle is really won in the hearts and minds of the community, where it really counts.” - Barbara Gittings?? 

In the '60s, she was an activist in early gay rights demonstrations. Barbara helped lobby the American Psychiatric Association to change its stance on sexuality. In 1973, they rescinded its definition as a mental disorder. 

Christine Jorgensen

A transgender pop culture icon,?Christine Jorgensen?became a celebrity because of her gender-affirming surgery in the 1950s. Christine, who had served in the US Army, made national and international headlines as the “Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty.”? 

Upon her return from Denmark to the US following her transition, media coverage of Christine and her story exploded, where she faced much discrimination. 

Christine used the newfound celebrity to advocate for the acceptance of transgender people, stating that no one had to be 100% male or 100% female. In her words, it was acceptable and normal to be a little bit of both.?? 

“What people still don’t understand is that the important thing is identity. You don’t [transition] for sexual reasons, you do it because of who you are.” 

Laverne Cox? 

An actress and the first openly transgender person nominated for an Emmy,?Laverne Cox?continues to raise awareness and advocate for the transgender community. 

For Laverne, representation (or the lack thereof) has always been top of mind for her. She’s made it a mission to be taken just as seriously as an activist as she is as an actress. After all, her goal is that the transgender community deserves the opportunity to turn on the TV and see themselves.? 

“I was told many times that I wouldn’t be able to have a mainstream career as an actor because I’m trans, because I’m Black, and here I am…And it feels really good.” 

Marsha P. Johnson 

Marsha P. Johnson?was an American?gay liberation activist and self-identified?drag queen. Marsha was one of the prominent figures in the?Stonewall uprising?of 1969.  

Marsha was a founding member of the?Gay Liberation Front?(GLF) and co-founded the radical activist group?Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries?(STAR), alongside close friend?Sylvia Rivera.?Johnson was known as the "mayor of?Christopher Street" for being a welcoming presence in the streets of?Greenwich Village. Beginning in 1987, Johnson was an?AIDS?activist with?ACT UP.