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Blog Out in Healthcare

Out in Healthcare: Wade Robinson, OTD

Name: Wade Robinson

Pronouns: He/his

Identity: Gay man 

Background: While completing my undergraduate degree, I became passionate about the field of sexual wellness while working with various non-profit organizations that provided HIV-related services and raised scholarships for LGBTQ students. Those experiences emphasized the importance of education around sexuality, and after beginning graduate school I was delighted to discover that sexual activity is included in the domain of occupational therapy. I was able to bring OT and sexuality education together and collaborate with @sexintimacyOT for my doctoral capstone project to create a continuing education course on LGBTQ0-inclusive practice.

Profession: Occupational Therapy

Area(s) of Practice or Interest: Sexual activity and education, pediatrics, hand/orthopedics

What does being ‘Out in Healthcare’ mean to you?: I believe that generally people have many misconceptions about what it means to be LGBTQ until they know that they know LGBTQ people. In my day-to-day life, I live by the mantra of “advocacy through visibility”, and I try to do the same in a professional setting by being authentic about my own sexual identity. I think this normalizes conversations about sexuality, models to colleagues how to respond, and indicates a safe-space to clients.

What is one thing everyone should know about your identity?: Overall I think that LGBTQ visibility is a good thing, but I’ve noticed that a lot of the mainstream media highlighting LGBTQ people are pretty narrow in their scope. I just want people to check themselves for implicit biases that are easy to subscribe to and know that being gay does not mean being into interior design, subscribing to a particular style of drag, or being into drag at all for that matter. Part of allyship is celebrating LGBTQ people for their identities, so just recognize that there are countless ways for identities to differ and each is as valid as the next.

How do you feel when your identity is included?: We [LGBTQ people] have gone so long without seeing proper representation or inclusion that I definitely notice when we are included in policies and media, even with little things.

What does “taking up space” mean to you?: To me this goes back to the idea of advocacy through visibility. It’s not like I always talk about being gay, queer culture, or anything like that, but I do think it is important to share my sexual identity with the people around me. I think its personal relationships that create allies. It’s so obvious to LGBTQ people how cisnormative/heteronormative everything is by default, and that creates a lot of marginalization that the majority never considers. I think that we can use that lens for the better to recognize how other minority groups could be excluded and erased, then aim for more inclusive, mindful practice.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to healthcare workers who aren’t sure how to honor the identities of their patients?: I know for OT in particular, there are not very many resources, which is why I created the LGBTQ-inclusive course for my capstone project. For healthcare professionals in general, I think the National LGBT Health Education Center is the best resource for practice guidelines. Time in the clinic is precious and the experience is often stressful for clients; it would be very unusual that that time would be best spent with the client educating the clinician about their sexuality. Being educated about sexuality before interacting with clients is best practice. If somebody finds themselves in a situation where they still are unsure, I think the most import thing they could do is approach the situation with humility. 

Has your identity influenced healthcare that you’ve received?: There are two instances that come to mind in which providers made assumptions about me after I disclosed that I am gay, and both instances were regarding sexual health interestingly enough. The first time I was just completing a routine check-up and getting some vaccinations to start graduate school, and the physician suggested that I complete a battery of STD tests. Even after I explained that I have worked in sexual health, am very aware of my relative risks, and was current on all my tests, the physician suggested that I at least get an HIV test. The second time, the nurse told me that they were going to ask me some questions about my sexual health, but once I said that I was gay, they moved on to ask me about other areas of health. Afterwards, without knowing any of my risk factors or sexual habits, they proceeded to try to administer a test that was completely inappropriate and did not apply to me at all. At this point, I said I would not be doing that test, explained that I previously worked in sexual health, and commented that I was surprised that they did not ask more questions to assess which tests were appropriate. The nurse brushed off my response and quickly said that there were more questions on the template but they were optional to ask and this was standard procedure. 

Where can people find you?: Hidden away studying for the NBCOT exam, hiking, or on Instagram at @Wad_the_robin

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Blog Out in Healthcare

Out in Healthcare: Dr. Sakshi Tickoo, BOTh®, Personal Counselor

Name: Dr. Sakshi Tickoo

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Identity: Bisexual

Background: I am 23 year old cisgender female born and raised in Mumbai, India. From being an 8-year-old child interested in gynecology and pursuing Occupational Therapy at the age of 17, a lot has changed unlike my passion for understanding sexuality. When I joined OT all I knew was it enables independence, holistic in approach and has scope for creativity and research. I haven’t been disappointed with that idea ever since I graduated from Asia’s first Occupational Therapy school in 2019. I came out to my family and friends 2 years back. While my parents still believe “bisexuals” don’t exist; my brother, colleagues and friends have been extremely supportive of my choices. However, this relationship with
my own sexuality is ever evolving and I’ve so much to learn about my own body & desires. Currently, I am working as a school-based OT and on the mission of educating and equipping therapists with tools and resources to create and build upon safer, inclusive, and judgement-free spaces for sexual expression.

Profession: Occupational Therapist

Area(s) of Practice: Sexuality and Mental Health, Wellness and
Rehabilitation

What does being ‘Out in Healthcare’ mean to you?: It means to represent and own my authentic self as a person and professional. It allows me to be open, honest with my clients and get a better perspective towards intimacy and relationships. Moreover, it has become a means of creating safer spaces for awareness and sensitizing people on gender and sexuality. This further sets an example of courage for others to be themselves and represent what they believe in.

What is one thing everyone should know about your identity?: Bisexuals are not indecisive, confused, experimenting, or only engaging in polyamory. Sexuality is fluid and sexual expression is a personal choice. Bisexuality for me is having a slightly wider spectrum of choice- an attraction to the person of same or opposite gender. This may also look like attraction to two or more genders for someone else. So, even though it’s one identity, the way we all express it can be vastly different.

How do you feel when your identity is included?: The “B” in LGBTQ is often invisible to most people. Bisexuals aren’t straight enough for the heteronormative society and not gay enough to be included in the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a constant struggle for belongingness but as long as people who matter to me are a part of my life and let me be part of theirs, nothing else matters!

What does “taking up space” mean to you?: Taking up space is an act of resistance. To own and establish your unique brand of self in this beautiful mess of a world. This space has a certain vibe, healthy boundaries, and provides a sense of belongingness. I don’t have to wait to belong anywhere as I belong everywhere. My thought & idea matters. My voice matters. I matter.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to healthcare workers who aren’t sure how to honor the identities of their patients?: Look and create that space of communication about sexuality. It won’t naturally arise because most healthcare workers aren’t addressing this area making patients clueless about the services we could offer. It will be awkward but it’s a skill set we learn and get better at- just like sex! And if it’s too much for you, be open to learn from your patient and let them guide you through this.

Has your identity influenced healthcare that you’ve received?: There is often no acknowledgement or plain ignorance to how I identify. It’s always assumed that I’m a heterosexual because I identify as a cisgender woman. I’ve not been denied any healthcare facilities but most providers fail to understand what I need from them. They lack providing optimal quality care expected from them which makes it harder for me to trust them at times.

Where people can find you:
Website: sexloveandot.in
Instagram/Facebook: @sex.love.andot
Email: sex.love.andot@gmail.com

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Blog Out in Healthcare

Out in Healthcare: Sara Persutti MS, OTR/L

Name: Sara Persutti


Pronouns: They/Them


Identity: Lesbian, Non-binary


Background: I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. I graduated with my Masters from D’Youville College. I have been practicing for 3 years (currently as a travel OT) and I have worked primarily with traumatized
youth in specialized behavior schools. This is where my passion lies and I plan to become a certified specialist in trauma interventions for youth.
I am lucky to have grown up in a city like Buffalo, where the LGBTQIA+ community is celebrated. I attend local LGBT events, hang out at LGBT bars and cafes, and support local arts and music. I have also modeled for a gender neutral shoot at my hair salon. When I am not being social I enjoy being as active as possible, whether with yoga, lifting, cycling, or hiking. Needless to say, I keep myself busy!


Profession: Occupational Therapist

Area of Practice: Youth-Young adult, School-based


What does being out in healthcare mean to you?: Since I primarily work with youth, coming out as a healthcare worker gives me the opportunity to be an LGBT role model for kids, who are experiencing their own journeys in a world that prioritizes being cisgender and straight. There is a common misguided idea that children are “too young” to be exposed to the concept of being queer, when everything they are exposed to in our current social climate emphasizes heterosexual, patriarchal relationships. Kids who feel they might be trans, gay, etc. have very little representation to identify with, and can be left confused, ashamed, and targeted by their peers. I value that my platform in healthcare allows me to be someone kids can be their authentic selves around, while showing them that being queer is both normal and something they can (and should) celebrate in themselves and others. Destigmatizing queerness in school will help kids feel safer and
more empowered to come to school, perform their occupations, and achieve to their full potential.


What is one thing everyone should know about your identity?: Non-binary lesbians are valid! My gender identity is non-binary, which means I do not identify within the culturally imposed male-female binary. Gender is socially constructed, and I don’t feel compelled to participate in concepts of masculinity and femininity. I’m just Sara! My sexuality is lesbian, which means I am attracted to women and non-binary folk (this frequently misunderstood and sometimes argued, but non-binary people have historically always been included in lesbianism!)


How do you feel when your identity is included?: Even within the LGBT community, non-binary lesbians are often looked at with a sideways head. Even people within the community need to be further educated on inclusivity. When my identity is acknowledged and respected, it feels affirming and great. At work, I have been hesitant to even come out as a lesbian at certain jobs, mostly when it seemed like there weren’t any other queer people around. Once I started encountering openly gay colleagues, I was much more confident to come out. I enjoy feeling empowered to come out on my own terms rather than let people make assumptions and judgments. Fortunately, I’ve never been in a workplace where I felt ostracized after coming out, which has made it easier and more comfortable to be myself while doing my best work.


What does “taking up space” mean to you?: Taking up space means that I feel empowered and safe to be openly and proudly queer. I should be able
to live my truth as fully as my cis and straight peers do, without any shame or disrespect. Unfortunately, LGBT people do still face stigma and discrimination, but the more we take up space and come out, the more we demand that we be considered as equals in healthcare and society as a whole.


What is one piece of advice that I would give to healthcare workers who aren’t sure how to honor the identities of their patients?: The most important thing is learning the needs of each individual patient, rather than relying on generalizations or assumptions. Ask the patient directly what their name and pronouns are so you can always address them and speak about them without invalidating their identity (and never refer to them with labels they have not used themselves). If you are unsure of something related to gender/sexual identity and need to know to help you can work with your patient, ask the patient directly, with open-ended, non-invasive questions (i.e “Are you sexually active? With which genders?”) Never assume that someone performs certain tasks or behaviors because of their identity.


Has your identity influenced healthcare that you have received?: I don’t feel I’ve been discriminated against due to my identity, but I do feel the system needs work in its approach to sexual health in general. All my doctors know that I am a lesbian, and I have been asked if I am with a partner and if I am sexually active. This is usually where the questions end, and I feel patients
would benefit from more in depth questioning. I was once asked about sex toy usage and cleaning, which may have been asked since I am a lesbian, but I would hope practitioners would ask all individuals this question.

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Blog Out in Healthcare

Out in Healthcare: Matt Wild BSN, RN

Name: Matthew Wild


Pronouns: He/him/his


Identity: Gay

Background: I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. I decided to  enter nursing school because I was always inspired by the compassionate care that nurses provided me throughout my life. 

Profession: Nursing

Area(s) of practice: Mental/Behavioral Health

What does being out in healthcare mean to you?: Being out in healthcare means accepting that you are a role model to those around you. Living my truth is not always easy, but even if it eventually inspires one person to do the same, or feel represented in some way, I’m happy. 

What is one thing you think everyone should know about your specific identity or the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole?: It’s important to never make assumptions about an individual based on your stereotypes of the collective group. Each person is unique in their own way and should be treated so.

How do you feel when your identity is acknowledged and included, in the workplace/ in media OR how do you feel when your identity is not included or acknowledged?: It is amazing to see in my lifetime, the drastic changes that have already occurred in regards to LGBTQIA+ representation in the media and in workplaces. I’m hoping that the ball keeps rolling and that this can be the case for every member of the community.

What does “taking up space” mean to you?: It means living my truth and helping those around me understand better. It means showing clients who come through the clinic doors that this is a safe space, and while we may not get everything right the first time for them, they can count on the fact that we are always evolving for the better

What is one piece of advice that you would give to a healthcare professional that is unsure of how to/inexperienced with honoring and including the identity on someone within the LGBTQIA+ community while receiving healthcare services?: Accepting that you don’t have all of the answers is the first step to a therapeutic relationship with a client in the LGBTQIA+ community. Even for me, my experiences as a gay man may be completely different than those of another gay man. Understanding that a client shouldn’t have to constantly explain their existence and identity to healthcare professionals is also important.


Has your identity influenced healthcare that you’ve received in the past? Absolutely, I remember being asked on a physical if I was “safe when I was privately with girls,” or, “a guy like you must have no problem finding a nice girl.” It’s hard for some people to understand that their assumptions can be really harmful to the mental health of people in the LGBTQIA+ community, and even in some cases deter them from receiving treatment.

Where you can find Matt:

Instagram: @mjameswild

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Blog

My story

I always found the idea of ‘coming out’ as strange or forced, but like many other LGBTQIA+ individuals I went through the same process on my journey to self-discovery and establishing my identity. I came out “officially” at the age of 17, or as I would prefer to say it, I started to let people in to who I am at 17. That is the same age that I decided to pursue an education in occupational therapy.

I applied to 9 schools originally and decided to attend D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY for my combined BS and MS of human occupation and occupational therapy. OT school was challenging, energizing, and fulfilling. I was fortunate to have incredible faculty, family, and friends who supported and challenged me with my crazy ideas like starting a community wellness clinic on campus or creating the official D’Youville OT instagram page – which is where the idea of @therainbowot grew from.

It was during professional development lecture in my final year of OT school where I found enough passion and frustration to start my lifelong mission for enhancing education, inclusion, representation, and advocacy for those within the LGBTQIA+ community, inside and outside of healthcare settings. I was so excited in class when we finally had a lecture where part of the class discussion was designated to address LGBT topics in OT. There was an objective to cover vast cultures including Korean and Latinx culture in a two hour span, leaving little time to cover all of the material, including LGBT+ topics. Without saying any names, it was clear to me that the professor was unprepared to answer questions about LGBT+ topics, especially those surrounding trans individuals – so the spotlight was turned to me (the token gay person). This wasn’t a new situation to me or the first time that I was placed with the responsibility to discuss LGBT+ topics in a class. I remember feeling powerful, frustrated, and concerned. There is a great amount of pressure when discussing topics and identities of the LGBT+ community, especially when my identity of being a white, gay, male (sex) does not come close to representing the entire community. It’s important to note that at the time of this class, I hadn’t really started acknowledging my non-binary identity, so I identified as a male. My concern came from the fact that I was one student, unable to represent or educate on all LGBT+ topics in only one section of the class. What did the other sections talk about? Did they discuss what it means to be trans? Did anyone validate the trans identity or provide definitions for the letters of the acronym? From there, the fire was lit to go on my own path of providing education and resources to anyone regarding these topics and more.

Where are we now? Well, The Rainbow OT has been running for just about a year. I launched my first LGBTQIA+ 101 series, a pronoun promise campaign, and have been a guest on two podcasts discussing LGBT+ related topics and occupational therapy’s role. With the support and safe space provided for friends that I owe the world to, I was able to let others in to who I am, a proud non-binary individual. I’m still in the beginning of my journey to self-discovery, but I am so happy with where I am when I look back at where I was. Where are we going next? You’ll just have to tag along and see.

XX,

Devlynn Neu

They/Them

The Rainbow OT

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Resources

LGBTQIA+ Resources for Healthcare Providers, Clients, and Families:

 

BIPOC LGBTQIA+ Resources:

The Okra Project: Collective that seeks to address the global crisis faced by Black Trans people by brining home-cooked meals and resources to the community. www.theokraproject.org

House of GG: Creating safe and transformative spaces for community to heal, and nurturing them into tomorrow’s leaders, focusing on trans women of color in the south. www.houseofgg.org

The Marsha P. Johnson Institute: Defends the rights of Black transgender people.

National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network: A network committed to transforming mental health for queer and trans people of color.

Brave Space Alliance: A Black-led,Trans-led LGBTQ Center working on the South Side of Chicago. @bracespacealliance

Black Trans TV: A digital media platform used to promote unity and dismantle the idea that Black queer/trans folx exist separately from the black community.

SNAPCO: Builds power of Black Trans and queer people to force systemic divestment from the prison industrial complex and invest in community support. www.snap4freedom.org

The Brown Boi Project: A community of masculine center womxn, men two-spirit people, transmen, and our allies committed to transforming our privilege of masculinity, gender, and race into tools for achieving racial and gender justice. Located in Oakland, CA. http://www.brownboiproject.org

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC): A civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black lesbians, black, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. NBJC’s mission is to end racism and homophobia. http://nbjc.org/

The National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition (NBGMAC): The NBGMAC is committed to improving the health and well-being of Blac gay men through advocacy that is focused on research, policy, education, and training. https://www.nbgmac.org/

Zuna Institute: A National Advocacy Organization for Black Lesbians that was created to address the needs of Black Lesbians in the areas of health, public policy, economic development, and education. http://www.zunainstitute.org/

Black Trans Travel Fund: Works on providing resources to Black trans women to be able to access safe transportation and travel alternatives.

TGI Justice Project: A group of transgender, gender variant, and intersex people – inside and outside of prisons, jails, and detention center – fighting against human rights abuses, imprisonment, police violence, racism, poverty, and societal pressures

The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN): The NQTTCN is a healing justice organization that actively works to transform mental health for queer and trans people of color in North America. Together we build the capacity of QTPoC (queer and trans people of color) mental health practitioners, increase access to healing justice resources, provide technical assistance to social justice movement organizations to integrate healing justice into their work. Our overall goal is to increase access to healing justice resources for QTPoC. https://www.nqttcn.com/

Black Visions Collective is a trans- and queer-led social-justice organization and legal fund based in Minneapolis-St. Paul. https://www.blackvisionsmn.org/about

The National Center for Black Equity connects members of the Black LGBTQ+ community with information and resources to empower their fight for equity and access. https://centerforblackequity.org/

Black AIDS Institute: Working to end the Black HIV epidemic through policy, advocacy and high-quality direct HIV services. www.blackaids.org

National Black Justice Coalition: A civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black LGBTQ+ people. http://nbjc.org/

The LGBTQ+ Freedom Fund: posts bail to secure the safety and liberty of people in jail and immigration detention. https://www.lgbtqfund.org/

Incite!: A national activist organization of trans and gender nonconforming people of color working to end violence against individuals and communities through direct action, dialogue, and grassroots organizing. https://incite-national.org/

Trans Women of Color Collective: A network of dedicated cultivating sustainable projects for and by transgender women of color.

Black Transmen: A nonprofit organization focused on social advocacy and empowering trans men with resources to aid in a healthy transition. https://blacktransmen.org/

Black AIDS Institute: works to end the Black HIV epidemic through policy, advocacy, and high-quality direct HIV services. https://blackaids.org/

For the Gworls: raisesmoney to assist wtih Black trans people’s rent & affirmative surgeries. https://www.facebook.com/forthegworls

Black Trans Femmes in the Arts: A collective of Black trans women and non-binary femmes who are dedicated to creating space for Black trans femmes in the arts. @btfacollective

By Us For Us: A collective of queer, femme, and non-binary Black and POC artists and organizers. @Bufu_byusforus

Know Your Rights Camp: Works to
advance the liberation and well-being of black and brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization, and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders.

UCSC QTBIPOC: Queer & Trans Black, Indigenous, People of  Color Resource Page. https://queer.ucsc.edu/resources/qpoc.html

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LGBTQIA+ Resources:

Trans Justice Funding Project: Community-led funding
initiative to support grassroots trans justice groups
run by and for trans people. www.transjusticefundingproject.org

Sex and Intimacy OT: Our mission is to dismantle restrictive norms related to sexuality and intimacy which limit clients and limit ourselves. We strive to promote understanding, respect, and empowerment for individuals as sexual beings. https://www.sexintimacyot.com/

Transgender Law Center offers legal resources to advance the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming people. https://transgenderlawcenter.org/

Reclaim: Resources for Queer and Trans youth. https://www.reclaim.care/what-we-do/resources-for-queer-and-trans-youth.html

National Center for Transgender Equality: Advocates to change policies and society to increase understanding and acceptance of transgender people. In the nation’s capital and throughout the country, NCTE works to replace disrespectl discrimination, and violence with empathy, opportunity, and justice. https://transequality.org/

Sex Love and OT: a sexuality, mental health, and OT advocate,
writer, and practitioner. Dr. Tickoo works as a school-based OT in Mumbai, however her work is not limited to kids. Dr. Tickoo’s work explores the integration of sexuality in OT practices for people of all ages. www.sexloveandot.in

Youth Breakout: Works to end the criminalization of the
LGBTQ+ youth in New Orleans to build a safer and more just community. www.youthbreakout.org

Black AIDS Insititute: Working to end the Black HIV epidemic
through policy, advocacy and high-quality direct HIV servicers. www.blackaids.org

Trans Cultural District: The world’s first-ever legally recognized Trans district, which aims to stabilize and economically empower the Trans community. www.transgenderdistrictsf.com

LGBTQ+ Freedom Fund: Posts bail LGBTQ people held in jail or immigrant detention and raises awareness of the epidemic LGBTA over-incarceration. www.lgbtqfund.org

The Network for LGBTQIA+ Occupational Therapists. http://www.otnetwork.org/

The LGBT OT, resource for LGBT+ specific OT practice and clients. By: Jadyn Sharber, MSOT, OTR/L. https://www.lgbtq-ot.com/

The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging (SAGE) Advocacy for LGBT+ Adult and Elderly Populations. https://www.lgbtagingcenter.org/

GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ
Equality 
(previously known as the Gay & Lesbian Medical
Association). http://www.glma.org/

LGBTData.com serves as a no-cost, open-access clearing house for the collection of sexual orientation & gender identity data and measures. (By Dr. Randall Sell). http://www.lgbtdata.com/

NALGAP: The Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Addiction Professionals and Their Allies is a membership organization founded in 1979 and dedicated to the prevention and treatment of alcoholism, substance abuse, and other addictions in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer communities. http://www.nalgap.org/

Healthy People 2020: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-health

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is working with national and local organizations to endure the LGBT community get quality health insurance and health care information. https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/Partnerships/LGBT

Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD): The Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD) formed in 2014 through a collaboration that occurred between members of the AOTA Emerging Leaders Development Program. COTAD has grown tremendously since its early days and has added individuals to its Executive Board and general membership. Now established as a non-profit organization, COTAD operates as group of individuals from across the United States all working towards a common goal of promoting diversity and inclusion within the occupational therapy workforce and increase the ability to occupational therapy practitioners to serve an increasingly diverse population. COTAD’s new Ignite Series: https://www.cotad.org/ignite-series 

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LGBTQIA+ Educational Podcast Episodes:

https://otafterdark.com/

https://ot4lyfe.com/35/

https://seniorsflourish.com/sexuality-identity-occupational-therapy/

www.occupiedpodcast.com/074