What are Queer Health Advocates?
Queer Health Advocates are trained volunteers who accompany and advocate for members of the community who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, aromantic, queer, or questioning during medical appointments. Queer Health advocates help their clients navigate the healthcare system, amplify clients' voices, promote feelings of safety, and get the care they deserve.
Why was this program created?
Medical appointments should be something that everyone can navigate safely, without fear of harassment, discrimination, or violence. This unfortunately is not the case for everyone, LGBTQIA people often do not feel safe in medical spaces. This is particularly true for the transgender community. The 2015 US Transgender Survey found that 23% of respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to due to fear of being mistreated as a transgender person. One third of all respondents in the same survey experienced at least one negative experience related to being transgender, such a verbal harassment, refusal of treatment, or having to teach the health care provider about transgender people to receive appropriate care. The purpose of the program is to create additional safety and support for patients through medical accompaniment. This is a community effort to shift power dynamics in medical settings and promote safety.
What is the time commitment for volunteering with this program?
After the program fully lifts off the ground, we anticipate no more than 2-3 commitments per month during business hours (typically 8 am-5 pm). At this time we are providing advocacy for non-emergency medical appointments, so engagements will be pre-planned.
What geographic areas will this program serve?
Currently, we're operating in the eastern Iowa corridor with emphasis in Johnson and Linn counties. However, we would like to expand in the future.
Who can volunteer?
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Be able to secure their own transportation
- Have not been convicted of a violent crime
- Have a basic, working knowledge of each sub-group within the LGBTQIA community and each communities' issues. We will assess volunteer knowledge during the interview.
- May not be currently employed as a healthcare provider at any healthcare facility due to conflict of interest, but nursing and medical students may apply.
How do I get involved?
You may volunteer for the program, be a trainer for future advocates, or both! Fill out the application below. The program coordinators will contact you for a brief interview and if you're accepted, you'll need to attend training on the following dates:
June 18th, 5:30 pm - 9:30 pm
June 19th, 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm