Health Equality for All, One Step at a Time

Improving OUTcomes 2016 has drawn to a successful conclusion. We appreciate all of you who joined us for this nourishing conversation. But as we close the conference, we have to begin work on planning next year’s conference. How do people committed to a lifelong effort to accomplish health equity for all sustain their energy for the work ahead? Fortunately, small progress is tremendously sustaining!

April 19, 2016 was a remarkable day for LGBTQI rights in the United States. In the first major ruling at the federal appellate level in the US, the judge made a humane ruling that appears likely to last: trans students have the right to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity, and cannot be consigned to use their assigned sex as birth to guide their steps. Should that case go on from appellate court to the Supreme Court, the ruling would be upheld even if the court split on it evenly… although hopefully, the court would be even stronger in supporting this logical decision. The ruling supported the trans student in Virginia who filed the suit and was supported by both the federal Department of Education and Department of Justice who argue that banning trans students from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity violates Title IX, the civil rights law that bans sex discrimination in education. Wow! Wonderful progress in the face of attempts to strip trans rights in two different states recently.

The other news has come from the sports pages across the country. Curt Schilling, former Boston Red Sox pitcher, has been fired from ESPN as a baseball analyst for posting a tasteless meme on trans people using bathrooms on his Facebook account. About the same time, a hockey player chose to apologize for shouting a homophobic slur when he was given time in the penalty box. Remarkable indices of fairness in the world of sports!

These things would not have happened 40 years ago or even 10 years ago. But they happened this week. The world is slowly changing… sometimes painfully, but as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pointed out, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Since the work of creating health equity for all will not be fully accomplished in any of our lifetimes, it is important that you nourish yourself with the small successes which help restore your energy and lead you to sustain and revel in your commitment!

175p CallahanEdward J. Callahan, PhD
University of California, Davis Health System
Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel
Professor of Family and Community Medicine
Chair, Vice Chancellor’s LGBTQI Advisory Committee