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Llamas are big on the Internet, especially Thursday, because two escaped in Arizona.

Funny enough, in the mid-1980s, llamas also were vehicles for financial speculation. The pitch was simple: Buy llamas, have the llamas make more llamas, sell the llamas, make money. It’s a pretty simple, and pretty terrible way to try to make money. The only way it works is if the price of llamas keeps going up. Which, in the 1980s, it did — for a while, at least. Then the price went down, and anyone owning llamas felt a bit like someone owning a whole bunch of tulip bulbs in in Holland in 1638.

The 1980s llama investment craze was particularly acute in Oregon. Llama rancher Lynn Hyder told a The Bulletin in Bend, Oregon, in 1984 that “they’re a good investment and very profitable. … No one has ever bought a female llama and not had their investment back in two or three years and doubled every year after that.”

The problem was, this wasn’t actually true. As The Bulletin noted at the time, “There doesn’t seem to be any reason for such inflation in llama prices except demand. Llamas aren’t really good for anything.” Their wool is poor quality. They do make decent pack animals, but buying pack animals isn’t really a profitable late-20th century investment strategy.

And so the llama bubble, which saw prices reach into the $20,000 range, burst. You can now buy a llama for about a tenth of their bubble-era price. It was, in hindsight, a classic speculative livestock bubble.

A similar boom-bust cycle is happening now with alpacas, which are being described, by someone who wants to sell you alpacas, obviously, as “the world’s finest livestock investment. … Unlike the stock market, alpacas are depreciable over five years.” What could possibly go wrong?

“You’re too fat.”
“You don’t know what you are doing.”
“Prove me wrong.”
“You are stupid.”
“You are hopeless.”

These negative words are words often used by a bully. Many of us are familiar with the character that just constantly tormented us. I realized that this bully character that I thought I said farewell to after my teen years, never disappeared in my life. And that person was me.

I was the bully. I bullied myself. When my business went the way I didn’t expect it to, I blamed myself. I was my escape goat. When everyone else was supporting me, I was sitting there terrified that I might disappoint everyone and started doubting and bullying myself.

The thing about the negativity that words of bullies use is never encouraging but it actually feels suffocating.

I don’t know about you but I achieve more with positive assurance and encouragement rather than negative discouragement. Even knowing this, I still was my own worst enemy and bullied myself constantly. I picked on everything I worked on to see what I “missed”. I didn’t see this as an opportunity to learn and grow but I saw it as an opportunity to attack my own self-esteem without realizing it. It was my ego and pride that I disappointed, not those who are supporting me. The picture of outcome is not what I drew up in my head at all. It never is. My ego, thinking somehow I can paint a perfect picture, would be hurt so badly when it isn’t.

Thankfully, faith and love steps in when I am constantly bullying myself. It is the understanding that I am capable of nothing yet everything. It is the knowing that those who love and support me, they will always love and support me. On this Anti-bullying day, I realized I am a bully; I was a bully. I bullied myself to exhaustion. I bullied myself to not see myself as the person I am but the person I disliked. I was hurting myself with words, thoughts, and actions. On this day that I support so dearly, I am making a promise to myself and to all of you.

No.More.Bullying.

I promise to embrace the love and support around me and accept it with full grateful heart. I promise to let myself go and have faith that whatever the outcome, I will persevere. I promise to love myself as I love everyone. I promise that I will learn to let myself go and to relax.

I promise to keep this promise.

WASHINGTON — Another potential roadblock to the Senate quickly passing funding for the Department of Homeland Security was cleared Thursday.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), one of the most adamant opponents of President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration, indicated he is not planning to hold up a vote on a DHS bill that doesn’t include measures to end the president’s policies, even though he opposes the plan.

“I think it’s appropriate to move forward with a bill,” he told reporters. “The ideas about how the process will go forward seem to be firmed up. I’m not happy with them, but I’m not interested in delay merely for the sake of delay.”

Funding for DHS is set to run out at the end of the day Friday, and the Senate is aiming to vote before then on a “clean” bill — without measures restricting Obama’s immigration actions — that would then be sent to the House.

Under the upper chamber’s rules, a senator would be able to delay that vote until after the Friday deadline if he or she wanted to. But the two biggest Senate critics of Obama’s actions appear to have conceded defeat. The Alabama senator left some wiggle room, saying he still would like to see what kind of unanimous consent agreement comes about, but said he isn’t looking to cause “unnecessary delays in this process.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told reporters on Wednesday that “nothing is to be gained by a delay of 12 hours or 24 hours or 36 hours,” indicating he won’t slow the process either.

Cruz voted Wednesday in favor of moving forward to the bill, while Sessions joined Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) in opposing it. Sessions told reporters he is not aware of anyone else planning to hold up the bill.

Lest it appear he had softened his view on a clean DHS bill, Sessions took to the Senate floor soon after talking to reporters to say Congress should not fund an “explosive constitutional violation” like Obama’s actions. He said he would vote against a clean bill and urge his colleagues to do the same.

Republicans leaving a closed-door meeting were optimistic that there would be enough votes to pass a clean funding bill by the end of Friday, so long as Democrats stuck to an agreement reached on Wednesday. Under the deal, the Senate would first vote on a bill to keep operations running at DHS and then consider a separate measure sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) that would block Obama’s executive actions on deportation relief and work authorization for undocumented immigrants.

“As long as there’s an opportunity to vote on my bill, I think there are enough votes in the Senate,” Collins said.

While it’s her hope to get a straight up-or-down vote on her bill, Collins said the exact process remains unclear. She does, however, expect a cloture vote on her bill as part of a series of votes that could begin as early as Thursday evening.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said the Senate may also vote on a short-term continuing resolution as a contingency plan. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has declined to say whether he would bring a clean DHS bill up for a vote, and a short-term CR would provide at least one vehicle to prevent the agency from shutting down.

During a press conference Thursday, Boehner refused to answer multiple questions on what he would do if the Senate advanced a clean funding bill. House Republicans are scheduled to meet Thursday evening to discuss their next steps.

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) told reporters he hopes the House will pass a clean DHS bill, even if Boehner needs to rely on Democratic votes. He has been urging his fellow Republican senators to support the legislation.

“As a governing party, we’ve got to fund DHS and say to the House, ‘Here’s a straw so you can suck it up,'” Kirk said.

We all need a makeover now and then. Which brings us to GlamSquad, a fabulous salon in Los Angeles. Check out how Laurel and Wolf designer Lucinda Pace transformed their new space!

BEFORE:1

2

Laurel & Wolf: You completely transformed this space – it looks like a different salon! You basically started from scratch with this location, was that a challenge?

Lucinda Pace: The budget for GlamSquad was a total of $5k for both spaces. Luckily GlamSquad already had the salon chairs, but it was still a challenge to completely outfit the salon for under $5k!

AFTER

L&W_Glam_095a

L & W: Where did your inspiration come from for the space? Because this is a functioning salon, did that change your idea of what to do with the interior design?

LP: I based my initial design on the GlamSquad logo and the idea behind their company, on-the-go beauty. It was very full glitz with silver foiled wallpaper and lush drapery in their signature coral tone.  After meeting with Erik (GlamSquad’s lead hair stylist and educator) and learning more about the day-to-day operations that would be taking place in the salons, I realized how much my design needed to shift from mega-glam to glam-functional. Since both of these spaces are used for educating stylists and makeup artists, the functionality needed to come first. Overall, the concept changed a great deal.  We went with a more transitional look but I think we still managed to make it glamorous.

L&W_Glam_007a

L&W: The location is awesome, with some great natural lighting, but it looks small! How did you get the most out of the square footage?

LP: The larger salon space needed four hair stations, two shampoo bowls and two makeup stations, in addition to storage for product which needed to comply with Los Angeles County Health and Safety Regulations. The smaller space would serve as more of an office, needing two desk areas and tall storage for boxes and the folding director’s chairs.  With limited space in both salons, I knew we needed to go vertical with all of the storage and the larger salon would have to incorporate the makeup areas in the center without obstructing the fantastic view of Sunset Blvd.

L&W_Glam_037aL&W: The final design is amazing — so many cute details! What was your favorite part of this design?

LP: My favorite detail about the space is probably the gray lacquer we were able to incorporate on the storage doors. Lacquer is always a great design element.

L&W_Glam_059a

Amazing work, Lucinda! What do you think of this extreme salon makeover? Tell us in the comments below!

xoxo, Laurel & Wolf

Laurel & Wolf is the world’s leading interior design marketplace. We provide online interior design services to residential and commercial spaces powered by our talented community of professional interior designers.

For a one time flat fee, you will receive multiple designs for your space with all the information you need to execute the design. All designs are fully customized to your space, budget, taste, and more!

Click here to launch your own design project!

Whoever says blondes have more fun clearly didn’t get the memo that Chrissy Teigen dyed her hair.

The 29-year-old model showed her 1.8 million Instagram followers her hair transformation as her locks went from a dirty blond to a deep brown hue:

LOOK WHAT IS HAPPENING

A photo posted by @chrissyteigen on



Hola from set! @sjblife @davidlopezzz @joshrotten ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

A photo posted by @chrissyteigen on



ARRRRR @davidlopezhair @sjblife @joshrotten

A photo posted by @chrissyteigen on




For contrast’s sake, here’s a look at Teigen and her mermaid-esque blond curls at the 2015 Oscars on Sunday:

We’re loving the new look, but let’s be real — homegirl could work a shaved head and still take a great picture.

Dear L.,

You really surprised and impressed us. Enlisting was enough of a stretch for an immigrant-by-parental-choice with American college aspirations. But with your characteristic zeal and skill, you just finished officer training school. Last Tuesday, watching you march in your crisp army fatigues and get pinned, was surrealistic. Never having served in the army, always having assumed you would do your required minimum and move on, I found the ceremony delightfully unfamiliar and awe-inspiring.

We drove down as a family to “Ba’ad Echad,” the concrete army base in the Negev desert near Mitzpe Ramon. We quickly discovered we were pikers — not that we’re competitive. Five of us, your loving brothers, sister and parents, took off work and school. Many of the other cadets hosted larger clans of 10 and 15.

Your proud mother had spent the day before cooking, despite having just landed from overseas. We could match others in food quality and were close on quantity (each brought enough to, as they say, feed an army) but we lacked the requisite, typically Israeli, accessories: personalized T-shirts and hats, folding tables, tablecloths, coolers, etc.

Ah, Israel. Instead of the expected Marine Corps spit-and-polish meets college commencement formality, the vibe was more tailgate party meets summer camp visiting day.

Throughout, the tone was remarkably relaxed, informal, warm, loving, familial. Watching the interactions between you and your fellow cadets, between all of you and your commanders, I recognized the same magic that worked so well in the Young Judaea Zionist Youth movement and its national camp Tel Yehudah I attended in the United States. Yes, it is bizarre to compare high-level army training to these benign, fun, educational frameworks.

And I recognize the dramatic differences, especially having heard your tales of army discipline, brutal hours, grueling work, tough decisions, intense courses, arbitrary moves, heartbroken kids sent home just days before graduation and, of course, the broader goal of turning all you sweeties into a top fighting machine to defend us against incredibly brutal enemies. But underlying it all, the key to Zionist movements, camps and the army, is the lure, power and magic of home.

This is about building a home, defending a home, perfecting a home. The secret to Israeli military success is that we are not fighting overseas, we are not fighting wars we don’t understand. We — I should say you and your peers — are fighting wars to defend our homes against foes who would delight in massacring us. That’s as real as it gets, as motivating as it gets.

I am proud that the warm, mushy feelings on display showed the brilliant Zionist insight that love is as powerful a motivator as fear, and that people thrive in atmospheres rooted in the positive, with occasional turbo-charging from terror, competition, fury. The Israeli army refuses to be fueled by hate. You have told me how careful your instructors and commanders are to refer to “the enemy” as military adversaries only, without indulging in bigotry, ethnic stereotyping or even labeling “the enemy” in ways that would be insulting, immoral or politically polarizing.

Amid that arid plain, in those sterile buildings, the army not only sharpened your minds, and strengthened your muscles, it stretched your souls by making you at home, using the eternal Jewish peoplehood glues of community, responsibility, morality and family.

We felt that sense of community, of that lovely Hebrew word echpatiyut, which my dictionary translates as “concern,” but is more like caring, conscientious concern on steroids.

From such profound concern for your comrades, your community and your country comes the deep sense of responsibility that compelled you to volunteer at least another year, and propelled you forward, despite the obstacles, including injuries. Zionism, as the movement of Jewish national liberation, is about us taking responsibility for our destiny, individually and collectively.

It’s not, of course, unique to Zionism; I see that same sense of responsibility instilled in American officers. The kind of command responsibility an officer in a democratic army accepts is unique. We saw it in action this Sunday, when a retired major witnessed a terrorist attack.

Acting instinctively, after his security guard disarmed the knife-wielding terrorist, this 55-year-old, nowthe coddled mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, tackled the terrorist to the ground. Supermayor! If we didn’t before, you and I now know where such concern and responsibility comes from — it becomes so deeply ingrained it’s within you even three decades after your service.

Still, last week we witnessed the added Zionist dimension, the extra spicing in this recipe creating IDF officers: the informality, the warmth, the biblical verses decorating the otherwise Spartan camp, your commanders’ exhortations, which also invoked the Bible, David Ben-Gurion and our history, inviting you to be professional and ethical — at the highest standards humanly possible. Despite the lies about us, there is a Zionist fighting ethic, rooted in the Bible, ingrained in our nation, expressed in our state and followed by our army, thanks to people like you.

Since 9/11, Americans frequently greet soldiers saying “I honor your service.” Last week, we drove nearly three hours to honor your service, your training, your ethics.

In a moving display of the kind of community, responsibility, morality and family-feeling that builds that sense of home, when I posted a photo from your ceremony on Facebook, 479 people “liked” it and 99 took the time to comment. They, like us, are wowed by you.

They, like us, are proud of you. They, like us, are grateful to you, well aware that during these difficult times, all of us, our entire civilization, in Israel and beyond, rests on the efforts, sacrifice and skills of people like you.

They, like us, honor your service.

Love, Abba

I don’t know where you’re reading this. Perhaps you’re sitting at your laptop, stealing a few minutes for yourself. Or maybe someone forwarded this to you at work. Or you’re huddled on the toilet holding your smartphone with the bathroom door locked, and you’re fighting back tears because this has been one of those awful days that you wish you could forget.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, this message is for you, and it starts like this… you are enough.

Think about those words for a minute.

You are enough.

Like tasting a fine wine, sip those three words and swish them into the recesses of your mind.

You are enough…

I remember the first time I discovered I was pregnant. I looked in disbelief at the pregnancy test. The joy that I felt was immediately overcome by concern.

I had a few glasses of wine this month; I ate sushi and took medication… I’m already a bad mom. I’m not enough.

While in labor, I remember rocking back and forth, slow dancing with my husband and looking up at him with tears in my eyes. Fear set in.

How can I possibly care for another human being when I can barely do this birthing thing? What have I gotten myself into? I’m not enough.

Night after night, every three hours, I nursed my newborn back to sleep. As I held that beautiful baby in my arms, I fretted.

I’m exhausted; I’m worn; I just want to sleep. I’m selfish to be thinking about myself and the sleep I’m losing out on. I’m such a bad mom. I’m not enough.

A tumble down the stairs, a fall in the yard, a bump on the head and a trip to the emergency room… frightening moments in a young toddler’s life. As I wipe my child’s tears, I worry.

I can’t keep up. I’m not fast enough; I’m not skilled enough; I’m not observant enough. I’m not enough.

Homework, tests, making and losing friends — all the stresses of raising a school-aged child. As I think about this stage of life, I fill with anxiety.

I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t understand this homework. I can’t protect her from hurtful friends. Are her grades good enough? I’m not enough.

Going to work, staying at home, working at home… these life decisions overwhelm me.

What if I make the wrong decision? What if my work affects my relationship with my child? What if I’m not a good stay-at-home mom? I’m not enough.

I’m not enough. These words rob us of our joy and destroy our confidence in our ability to mother.

You need to know something, though… you are enough!

Whether you adopted, had a cesarean, had an intervention-free birth, took an epidural, birthed in a hospital or labored at home… you are enough.

Whether you nursed or bottle-fed, whether your child slept in your bed or in their own crib… you are enough.

Whether your child had a scratch, a bruise, stitches, a bump or a broken bone… you are enough.

Whether your child had decent or amazing grades, one friend or many friends… you are enough.

Whether you’re a working mom or a stay-at-home-mom… you are enough.

I know this because there is a little someone who loves you and who looks at you with adoration. I know you’re enough because there is someone who delights in being loved by you.

You’re a mom. The fact that you think you’re not enough indicates just how amazing you are. However, whether your children are weeks, years, or decades old, they need you to love yourself just as much as you love them. They need you to realize that you are enough.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing… this message is for you.

Yes, beautiful mother… you are enough.

This post originally appeared on The Deliberate Mom. Follow The Deliberate Mom on Facebook to receive blog updates.

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This post was originally published by Kaiser Health News (KHN). Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nonprofit national health policy news service.

Buying health care in America is like shopping blindfolded at Macy’s and getting the bill months after you leave the store, economist Uwe Reinhardt likes to say.

A tool that went online Wednesday is supposed to give patients a small peek at the products and prices before they open their wallets.

Got a sore knee? Having a baby? Need a primary-care doctor? Shopping for an MRI scan?

Guroo.com shows the average local cost for 70 common diagnoses and medical tests in most states. That’s the real cost — not “charges” that often get marked down — based on a giant database of what insurance companies actually pay.

OK, this isn’t like Priceline.com for knee replacements. What Guroo hopes to do for consumers is limited so far.

It won’t reflect costs for particular hospitals or doctors, although officials say that’s coming for some. And it doesn’t have much to say initially about the quality of care.

Still, Guroo should shed new light on the country’s opaque, complex and maddening medical bazaar, say consumer advocates.

“This has the potential to be a game-changer,” said Katherine Hempstead, who analyzes health insurance for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “It’s good for uninsured people. It’s good for people with high deductibles. It’s good for any person that’s kind of wondering: If I go to see the doctor for such-and-such, what might happen next?”

Guroo is produced by the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) working with three big insurance companies: UnitedHealthcare, Aetna and Humana, soon to be joined by a fourth, Assurant. The idea is to eventually let members of these plans use a companion site to see how differing provider prices affect their co-payments.

A nonprofit known for its cost and utilization reports, HCCI receives some industry funding but is governed by an independent board. This is its first tool for consumers.

Consumer advocates praised Guroo but cautioned that the movement toward “transparency” in medical prices is still in its very early stages. Data on insurer, employer or government Web sites are often limited or inaccurate. Consumer information from Fair Health, which manages another huge commercial insurance database, is organized by procedure code.

Even on Guroo, “the average user may not have a good sense of what they’re looking at and what they’re supposed to do with the resulting price,” said Lynn Quincy, a health care specialist at Consumers Union.

HCCI says its prices are what insurers pay for about 70 tests and “bundles” of services described in understandable terms so patients don’t need a medical textbook to figure out what they are. Users get the average as well as a range for local and national prices.

It plans to add more procedures later — all for “shoppable” services that can be scheduled, not emergency treatment of a heart attack.

“This at least arms consumers with information about the range of prices in their community [for] one of these care bundles,” said David Newman, HCCI’s executive director.

If you have a high deductible, for example, you might use Guroo as a starting point for checking prices from medical providers if your insurance company doesn’t provide such a tool.

That’s not the same as seeing provider-specific prices online, of course. But within a year, HCCI expects to let members of UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, Assurant and Humana track spending on a companion site and check how switching caregivers could lower their out-of-pocket costs.

Initially Guroo doesn’t have much information about quality of care, either, which is essential to help patients to make smart choices. Newman says that is coming, too. It’s also missing information for Alabama, Michigan and several other states.

BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina set a high standard for disclosure recently by posting prices — doctor by doctor and hospital by hospital — based on its reimbursement rates, Quincy said. Guroo doesn’t do that.

Still, she said, it’s an important step.

Given its size, influence and openness, Guroo could become a dominant portal for health care prices, said Hempstead.

“Their stance as a neutral broker and the amount of data that they have and the amount of data that they’re going to have really puts them in a difference place,” she said.

jhancock@kff.org | @JayHancock1

Recently I found myself in a situation that many transgender people dread: I was in an accident and required emergency medical care.

On a beautiful snowy Saturday, I went skiing in Southern Vermont and took a bad tumble on a run down the mountain. As I lay in the snow in a tremendous amount of pain and waiting for the ski patrol to come help me, I couldn’t stop worrying. I worried about how I would be treated once my transgender status was revealed. I knew I may need to “come out” as a transgender man on my own in order to ensure appropriate medical care. Alternatively, I knew I may be “outed” by the fact that my transgender body is not the same as a cisgender man’s body.

I worried. Would I be respected and treated with compassion? Would I be addressed appropriately? Would I even get appropriate medical care?

The ski patrol arrived, assessed me, and bundled me into a basket to ski me down the mountain to the onsite emergency clinic. X-rays were taken before a stitch of clothing was removed and it was determined that I had multiple fractures in my lower leg that would require transfer to a hospital and surgery.

My gender expression, particularly my ski clothing and gear, aligned with my gender identity, and was what we consider traditionally masculine. The gender marker on my state issued ID is “male.” It’s important to note that at this point, the ski patrol, nurses, x-ray techs and doctors all referred to me as male. I was “passing,” which means no one knew I was a trans man.

My lower clothing was partially removed in order to splint my leg and prepare me for the 1.5 hour trip to the hospital. I had been given IV morphine for pain but even then I began to hear the shift in the way I was being referred to. To my face, it was still “Beck” but in the background, some of the caregivers began using feminine pronouns — “she” or “her” — to refer to me. Each time I heard them, I’d yell “it’s he” as a way to claim my space and dignity in what was truly a frightening situation.

The ER:
When I reached the hospital Emergency Room I was immediately assessed by the ER doctor on duty. I began our conversation with: “Doctor, I am a transgender man. Do you know what that means?” When he answered in the affirmative, I said “I expect to be treated with dignity and respect — do you understand?” Again he answered in the affirmative and began to treat my injury.

I’ll never forget the nurse assigned to monitor my condition during my time in the ER. She began by saying she admired how I had advocated for myself in the situation. She said she didn’t know much about transgender people and had never had training in transgender patient care. She clearly expressed a desire to be supportive as well as her uncertainty in knowing what respectful and appropriate care should look like. I thanked her for her support, told her it would help me a lot if everyone referred to me as “Beck” and used the pronouns “he, him and his” to refer to me. I thanked her for her concern and said I would let her know how else she could help.

The Hospital:
The severity of the break meant I had one surgery that very night and a second surgery nine days later. I was in the hospital for a total of 15 days.

My orthopedic surgeon ended up being a woman who, like my ER nurse, deeply desired to be supportive but lacked any direct training in LGBT patient-centered care. One issue that arose was whether or not I could continue hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during the treatment for my leg. The hospital pharmacist and endocrinologist were deeply against it. Again advocating for myself, I encouraged my orthopedic surgeon to speak directly to transgender health care experts at Fenway Health in Boston. Because my doctor took the time to speak with Fenway, I was allowed to continue my HRT and avoid the possible complications of stopping treatment.

As a non-ambulatory patient for 15 days I interacted with a massive team of nurses, certified nursing assistants and physical therapists working with me every day. There were also people who cleaned my room and brought my food as well as various administrative staff.

I came out to almost all of my direct care staff — nurses and nursing assistants — and acted as an educator throughout my stay. Once it seemed I had everyone on-board and acclimated, the staffing shift schedule would change and I would have whole new teams of caregivers to educate. And, even with all this work and advocacy, I would still be mis-gendered either to my face or within earshot on an almost daily basis.

Why It’s Important for caregivers to be LGBT culturally & medically competent:
Wellness is a holistic endeavor. As a transgender man, when a caregiver mis-genders me by referring to me with the wrong pronoun, several issues come up. One, I don’t feel seen or heard for who I am. Our trust is disrupted and in that situation I am less likely to be forthcoming with my needs medically. Additionally, being “erased” and feeling invisible has a depressive quality that is not conducive to the best healing.

Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals face discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity when seeking health care. Fear of discrimination causes many LGBT people to avoid seeking health care, and, when they do enter care, studies indicate that LGBT people are not consistently treated with the respect that all patients deserve. Beyond cultural competency issues, there are also specific medical concerns and needs for members the LGBT community. Doctors and other caregivers require training and education in those issues — or at least should have access to LGBT medical experts for when questions arise.

What Went Right:

  • Overall, I had compassionate and engaged caregivers who had the desire to treat LGBT patients with dignity and respect.
  • Because my caregivers had the desire to learn, I could advocate for myself and educate. It’s important to note, though, that I am an LGBT awareness trainer for a living — so I am in a unique and privileged position to advocate for myself.

What Needs to Improve:

  • None of the hospitals in the vicinity of the ski area where I was injured, including the one I was admitted to, participate in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI). The HEI is the national LGBT benchmarking tool that evaluates health care facilities’ policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of their LGBT patients, visitors and employees. To earn the designation as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality,” a facility must meet all four of the HEI’s core criteria, one of which is required training for key staff As part of participating in the HEI, facilities have access to free training in LGBT patient-centered care.
  • Medical and nursing schools as well as technical schools that certify EMTs and Paramedics need to incorporate LGBT healthcare and cultural competency into their curriculum

How You Can Help:

  • If you work in the health care field, use your insider position to advocate for training and education at your facility/employer. Encourage them to participate in HRC’s HEI if they don’t already do so.
  • If your LGBT friend or loved one is in a medical emergency, note that they may need help advocating for themselves. Be prepared to help advocate for appropriate and respectful treatment. Caregivers may also need referrals to resources for expert medical input (see below).

Resources for Caregivers:

HRC offers free training through the Healthcare Equality Index

See the report from HRC and Lambda Legal, Creating Equal Access to Quality Health Care for Transgender Patients: Transgender-Affirming Hospital Policies that offers best practices in hospital policies to reduce health disparities for transgender patients.

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