Rural LGBT people struggle for health care

Published: March 5, 2015

Jonathan Winston Jones
Original Article:

OMAHA, Nebraska (the Heartland Project) – When Ryan Sallans, an activist in the Nebraska transgender community, first went to the doctor in 2005 to talk about what he medically needed to do for his gender transition, his doctor wanted to offer medical help. That was the good news.

The disconcerting news was the doctor had to Google the issue first to figure out the best medical advice.

"My provider just did a Web search to figure out what dose of hormones I should be on, and put me on the highest dose," Sallans said. That could have been a dangerous choice. "Starting too high of a dose too quickly can cause a lot of health problems, particularly to cardiovascular health."

Fortunately, Sallans didn’t have any health complications.

But his experience left him with a mission. He volunteers to speak with medical institutions, as well as with businesses and colleges, to urge them to be more LGBT inclusive.

While a growing number of medical schools are teaching future doctors how to address health concerns that can be specific to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, studies show current doctors only get about five hours of training, if they get any at all.

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