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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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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