Healthcare professionals from across the country converge on Atlanta next week for the national Gay & Lesbian Medical Association’s 29th annual conference, slated for Sept. 21-25 at the W Hotel Midtown.
The conference aims to improve the quality of medical care given to LGBT patients, according to event organizers. More than 350 doctors, dentists, nurses and other healthcare professionals will attend.
GLMA Executive Director Hector Vargas called the conference a springboard for action.
“What we try to do with the conference is focus on the leading issues around LGBT health, from clinical and primary care issues to education and training and health policy, in a way that serves as the basis for GLMA’s agenda to ensure LGBT health equality,” Vargas said.
Among the many topics to be discussed over the five-day conference are transgender-inclusive health insurance, complying with new federal hospital visitation regulations, family building options for LGBT couples, the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic and medical school curriculum focusing on LGBT patients.
The GLMA conference is the largest such gathering of medical professionals in the world, according to organizers. This year marks the first time the event will be held in Atlanta. It features nine keynote sessions, as well as some 45 workshops on a range of issues.
“One of the things that’s great about Atlanta is there’s a strong LGBT community there that includes people working on LGBT health issues,” Vargas said.
“There are many HIV / AIDS organizations that serve people. It was a great opportunity for an organization whose mission is LGBT health equality to come to Atlanta and work with some of those organizations,” Vargas added.
Guest speakers include Freedom to Marry’s Evan Woflson, Surgeons General Regina Benjamin and Joycelyn Elders, and Kevin Fenton, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD & TB Prevention, part of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Attendees will participate in dozens of panels and discussion groups covering a wide array of medical subjects.
“The research and the clinical side of what is presented at the conference really becomes a call to action for the policy and the action we need to do,” Vargas said.
U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative will be honored for their work in the LGBT community at the conference’s annual Banquet & Achievement Award reception. The event will be held at the Fox Theatre’s Egyptian Ballroom on Saturday, Sept. 24. The banquet is emceed by lesbian comedian Kate Clinton.
Other honorees include the Institute of Medicine, World Professional Association for Transgender Health, former GLMA President Christopher E. Harris, and Harvard Medical School Kinsey Two-Sixers.
Joint symposium on trangender health
Also on the conference schedule is a historic joint symposium on transgender health, co-sponsored by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and Southern Comfort. The day-long symposium is set for Sunday, Sept. 25; it is preceded by short community town hall on transgender healthcare set for Thursday, Sept. 22.
The Southern Comfort transgender conference, held annually in Atlanta, is set for Sept. 21-25. The WPATH International Symposium comes to the Emory Conference Center, Sept. 24-28. The event includes the launch of completely new Standards of Care for transgender people.
“The purpose of the 22nd WPATH International Symposium is to present professionals with the latest advances in research, education, clinical service, and advocacy to promote the health and well being of transgender and transsexual people and their families,” the organization states in a press release.
The Sept. 25 joint symposium will mark the first time the three organizations have come together in one conference day.
“The fact these conferences are all happening around the same time presents a unique opportunity to address transgender issues,” Vargas said.
“Leaders from all three organizations will come together to talk about health issues that affect transgender issues. It’s an amazing opportunity for activists and advocacy workers involved to work together.”
Some conference events are open to the public. Visit their websites for complete schedules.
Top photo: Jocelyn Elders (NIH official photo)