Bisexual Health and Service Providers

Bisexual Health and Service Providers


Dr. Tam:
MY NAME IS SYDNEY TAM. I’M A PHYSICIAN
AT SHERBOURNE HEALTH CENTRE. I’VE BEEN WORKING HERE
FOR 10 YEARS. Torres: I’M CHARM TORRES. I’M ORIGINALLY
FROM THE PHILIPPINES. I’M CURRENTLY PRACTISING NURSING
IN TORONTO. I WORK AS A REGISTERED NURSE
AT THE LGBT PRIMARY CARE TEAM AT SHERBOURNE HEALTH CENTRE. I AM QUEER AND RACIALIZED, YEAH.
[ LAUGHS ] Thawer:
MY NAME IS RAHIM THAWER. I WORK
AT SHERBOURNE HEALTH CENTRE. I’M A REGISTERED SOCIAL WORKER AND WORK AS A COUNSELLOR HERE
ON THE NEWCOMER HEALTH TEAM. I’VE ALSO WORKED AT OTHER PLACES
IN THE COMMUNITY, INCLUDING A CHILDREN’S
MENTAL-HEALTH AGENCY, AND I’VE HAD A FEW JOBS
IN THE HIV SECTOR. I IDENTIFY AS GAY AND QUEER. Rev. Dr. Dinovo: I’M
REVEREND DOCTOR CHERI DINOVO. I’M A MEMBER
OF PROVINCIAL PARLIAMENT FOR PARKDALE-HIGH PARK. I KNEW THAT I WASN’T
STRICTLY HETEROSEXUAL FROM WHEN I WAS
A VERY LITTLE GIRL. I MEAN,
I REMEMBER MY FIRST CRUSH WAS ON THIS LOVELY TEENAGE WOMAN WHO WAS IN AN ACTING CLASS
THAT MY MOTHER HAD ME IN. AND I REMEMBER
SITTING ON HER LAP AND BEING GOOGLE-EYED
ABOUT HER. AND I’M PROUDLY BISEXUAL. Torres:
I THINK A LOT OF BISEXUAL FOLKS EXPERIENCE A LOT OF ERASURE IN TERMS
OF ACKNOWLEDGING THEIR IDENTITY AND WHAT THAT MEANS FOR THEM. Thawer: I THINK THE UNIQUE NEEDS
AND EXPERIENCES OF BISEXUAL PEOPLE AND TRANS
PEOPLE HAVE REALLY BEEN ERASED. Torres:
THERE IS A LOT OF DISCREPANCY IN TERMS OF WHAT PROVIDERS THINK
THEY KNOW ABOUT BISEXUALITY. Thawer: FROM A MAINSTREAM
GAY AND LESBIAN PERSPECTIVE, WE TEND TO THINK
ABOUT BISEXUAL PEOPLE AS JUST BEING ON THIS JOURNEY TOWARD A FIXED IDENTITY
OF GAY OR LESBIAN, AND THAT IS REALLY NOT FAIR. Rev. Dr. Dinovo: I DO REMEMBER
A SIGNIFICANT PERIOD OF TIME WHERE IT WAS DEFINITELY NOT COOL
TO BE A BISEXUAL, WHERE LESBIANS OR GAYS THOUGHT THAT IF YOU SAID
YOU WERE BISEXUAL, YOU SIMPLY WEREN’T
OUT OF THE CLOSET YET. YOU WERE
JUST REALLY HIDING THE FACT THAT YOU WERE
REALLY LESBIAN OR GAY. Dr. Tam: AND THEN THERE ARE SOME
OF THE MISTAKEN ASSUMPTIONS THAT I HAVE SEEN SOME
HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS PROVIDE IN THAT IF SOMEONE IS BISEXUAL, THEY MIGHT ONLY COUNT
THE MALE PARTNER WHO HAPPENS TO HAVE A PENIS AS SOMEONE WHO PUTS THEM AT RISK
FOR VARIOUS THINGS, LIKE HPV. Thawer: THOSE EXPERIENCES
COME WITH UNIQUE HEALTH NEEDS THAT WE NEED TO THINK ABOUT AND ADDRESS APPROPRIATELY
AND ADEQUATELY. Dr. Tam:
YOU KNOW, ALWAYS BEING MINDFUL. MINDFUL OF MY OWN SPEECH,
MY OWN PATTERNS. YOU KNOW, UNDERSTANDING — HAVING A MINDFUL WORK ATTITUDE
IS USEFUL FOR SURE. IT’S NOT FOOLPROOF.
NO ONE’S PERFECT. Thawer: WHEN I THINK
ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH, I’M THINKING ABOUT
THESE EXPERIENCES AND PROCESSES OF SOCIAL EXCLUSION
AND HOW THEY RELATE TO, KIND OF, THE THINGS WE BREAK
MENTAL HEALTH DOWN INTO, WHICH IS STRESS, ANXIETY, SOCIAL
ISOLATION, SADNESS, LONELINESS. AND THOSE ARE KIND OF THE THINGS WE BREAK THESE LARGER THINGS
DOWN INTO TO THEN WORK WITH. SO THAT’S
WHAT I’M LISTENING FOR. HOW DO THE EXPERIENCES OF MOVING IN THE WORLD
AS A BISEXUAL PERSON IMPACT THESE VARIOUS AREAS
OF MENTAL HEALTH? Dr. Tam: WHEN YOU LEARN NOT TO
MAKE ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT PEOPLE, SUDDENLY IT BECOMES
A LOT EASIER TO BE INCLUSIVE, INCLUDING BISEXUAL PEOPLE. Torres:
I HAVE FRANK CONVERSATIONS, AND I DO PREFACE MY QUESTIONS
BY ASKING. I WILL ASK
SOME MORE DETAILED QUESTIONS DEPENDING
ON WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR. AND I FIND THAT
THAT USUALLY HELPS MANAGE ANY KIND OF AWKWARDNESS
THAT COULD HAPPEN. Dr. Tam: AND ABOVE ALL, ASKING
THE PATIENT, ASKING THE CLIENT, YOU KNOW,
WHAT THEY NEED FROM YOU, ASKING IF YOU’RE ASKING
THE RIGHT QUESTIONS, ASKING IF THEY FEEL THAT YOU’RE
USING THE RIGHT LANGUAGE — THAT’S ALWAYS IMPORTANT. Thawer:
PERSONALLY, MY EXPERIENCE CAME FROM THE HIV SECTOR, WHERE I WORKED WITH A LOT OF
GUYS WHO IDENTIFIED AS BISEXUAL, OR THEY IDENTIFIED AS STRAIGHT, BUT HAD PARTNERS
THAT WERE BOTH MEN AND WOMEN. AND FROM THAT EXPERIENCE,
I REALLY GOT A SENSE OF THE NUANCES
OF BEHAVIOUR VERSUS IDENTITY AND HOW THAT IMPACTS
PEOPLE’S HEALTH… BECAUSE IF PEOPLE
DON’T IDENTIFY A PARTICULAR WAY, THEY’RE NOT GONNA ACCESS
A CERTAIN KIND OF SERVICE. Dr. Tam: IN TERMS
OF HOW TO WORK EFFECTIVELY AND PROVIDE GOOD SERVICE
IN A COMPASSIONATE MANNER TO PEOPLE WHO ARE BISEXUAL STEMS FROM A STRONG BACKGROUND
EARLIER ON IN MY CAREER IN WHAT THEY USED TO CALL
ANTI-OPPRESSION TRAINING, AND WHAT TENDS TO BE CALLED
CULTURAL COMPETENCE TRAINING, WHICH I DID TAKE SEVERAL COURSES
PROFESSIONALLY. Torres:
I ATTENDED A “B SIDE” GROUP THAT’S ACTUALLY BEING RUN HERE
AT SHERBOURNE HEALTH CENTRE. I THINK IT’S BEEN RUNNING
FOR A FEW YEARS. AND THAT REALLY STARTED
MY JOURNEY INTO LEARNING A LOT
ABOUT BISEXUALITY IN TERMS OF A LOT OF LITERATURE, BUT ALSO COMMUNITY WORK
THAT’S HAPPENING AND A LOT OF JUST EVEN LEARNING
WITH PEOPLE. Thawer: TO EITHER
MENTAL-HEALTH SERVICE PROVIDERS, IF THEY WANT TO INCREASE
THEIR CAPACITY AROUND WORKING WITH CLIENTS
WHO ARE BISEXUAL, TO REALLY RECOGNISE WHAT PIECE THEY WANT TO WORK ON
WITH THEIR CLIENTS. Torres: THE INTERNET
HAS A LOT OF RESOURCES THAT YOU COULD OFFER
AROUND COMMUNITY BUILDING. I KNOW THERE ARE
A LOT OF RESOURCES ONLINE THAT PEOPLE SHARE. SO DEFINITELY ACCESS
THOSE RESOURCES. Rev. Dr. Dinovo: AS A BISEXUAL
PERSON AND A POLICY PERSON, I THINK
THAT WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT FOR HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS IS
TO KNOW WHO THEY’RE TALKING TO WHEN SOMEONE COMES TO SEE THEM. Dr. Tam: I REALLY RECOMMEND
THAT HEALTH PROVIDERS ACTUALLY FORMALLY TAKE
SOME KIND OF TRAINING, A COURSE, AND MANY ARE AVAILABLE, EITHER THROUGH THE ORGANISATION
THAT THEY WORK WITH OR EVEN ON THEIR OWN AS PART
OF THEIR CONTINUING EDUCATION TO LEARN A BIT MORE
ABOUT CULTURAL COMPETENCE, WHAT SOME PEOPLE MIGHT CALL
ANTI-OPPRESSION TRAINING. Rev. Dr. Dinovo: IT’S WONDERFUL THAT WE HAVE
SO MANY SEXUALITIES. WE SHOULD BE CELEBRATING THIS
WITH OUR CHILDREN. AND I FEEL
THAT, TOO OFTEN, STILL, THE CASE IS
THAT THEY GO TO SPEAK OR THEY COME OUT
TO A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL, AND IMMEDIATELY
THEY’RE PIGEONHOLED WHEN THEY’RE EXPLORING AND WHEN THEY MAY NOT BE
ONE THING OR THE OTHER. THEY MAY BE MANY THINGS. I THINK WE’RE ALL MANY THINGS. Together:
THIS IS MY COMMUNITY.

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Comments

  1. I have had so many negative experiences with health care providers. I really wish their schools provided the training they need to serve our community adequately.

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