Serving the LGBTQ Community

Pride Flag Image

“My inspiration for Energy Matters was to create a place that honored the uniqueness of each patient, as well as each staff member. I believe that our mission in life is to unfold into the truest version of ourselves. Our acupuncturists support and guide our patients on that journey, and our managers support and guide our employees.“ -Kirstin Lindquist, L.Ac, owner and founder of Energy Matters

Pride at Energy Matters

What does it mean in our clinic to serve members of the LGBTQ community? At its base, it’s simple - the principles of holistic medicine we were trained in taught us to see each person as an individual – an individual who is in a certain place and time, impacted by their history and their environment. We commit not to treat anyone as a diagnosis, an identity, or a health problem, but as a person. This is both ethical and effective. Having your whole self in the treatment room, feeling safe and seen, results in a powerful healthcare relationship – regardless of whether your practitioner shares your identity or not.

“In a prior life, I did research on healthcare access, and found both that healthcare settings was a place where LGBTQ folks experienced the most discrimination and poor treatment, and that LGBTQ individuals often accessed healthcare less than their "straight" counterparts, possibly as a result of this. While some LGBTQ patients may prefer an LGBTQ practitioner, in general I think LGBTQ patients just want to know they will not be "othered" in the eyes of their practitioner, and that their health, lives, and experiences will be held with the same respect and regard as any other patients.“ -Prajna Choudhury L.Ac, Energy Matters Practitioner

Clinical Practice and Workplace Values

As an LGBTQ-owned business, Energy Matters has always attracted and served patients from the LGBTQ community. But there are also practical steps our clinic has taken to increase accessibility for LGBTQ patients, clients, students and staff. We have learned and grown along the way, and continue to make changes as improvements are suggested by our staff and patients, as we learn and access training, and by listening to community members and advocates. Our intake forms ask about pronouns and relevant anatomy, not gender. Images chosen for our marketing materials reflect the diversity of the Energy Matters community including LGBTQ folks.

In recent years, Energy Matters has offered mindfulness meditation classes taught by our practitioner Prajna Choudhury L.Ac. LGBTQ patients and community members can join an annual LGBTQ Inner Peace, Outer Peace class, offering a dedicated environment for healing and inner exploration that can both increase well-being, and offer a respite from the toll of discrimination and marginalization.

As a workplace, we strive to go beyond ‘non-discrimination’ to nurture the fullest selves of our whole team, and celebrate the knowledge, resources and insights our varied identities offer the organization.

Health, TAM and the LGBTQ Community

Are there specific health issues we might see with LGBTQ patients? LGBTQ is a huge umbrella term with infinite diversity contained within it. And at the same time, there are quantifiable health costs caused by the discrimination and oppression experienced by queer people.

“While LGBT+ people are as likely to have a usual source of care and regular provider, and use similar sites of care as their non-LGBT+ counterparts, they were more likely to report a range of negative provider experiences, including being blamed for health problems or having their concerns dismissed.” -Kaiser Family Foundation, LGBT+ People’s Health and Experiences Accessing Care, 2021

Patient advocacy is an increasingly common role for the practitioners in our clinic, and strategizing with patients on how to access health care from their allopathic providers and supporting them in the process is a regular part of treatments, one with special importance for LGBTQ patients.

Transgender and gender non-conforming people can have even greater experiences of discrimination in healthcare. Whether our practitioners are supporting hormone therapy or treating shoulder pain, knowledge and respect are vital to effective treatment.

“Studies of the transgender community show that up to 39% of transgender people have faced some type of harassment or discrimination when seeking routine health care, and many report being denied care outright or encountering violence in health care settings.” -Kaiser Family Foundation, Health and Access to Care and Coverage for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Individuals in the U.S., 2018

Practitioners of Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM) and “natural” medicine are not exempt from discrimination by any means. As our clinic seeks to open doors and increase our welcome and service to all people, we encourage our colleagues and profession to do the same - most importantly by listening to the voices and experiences of the most marginalized among us.

“I remember [in school] teachers and practitioners discussing what was considered "natural" in terms of sexuality in Traditional Asian medicine, which 100% excluded LGBTQ individuals. Traditional Asian Medicine has so much to offer in our modern world, and we as practitioners have to be careful about applying the term "natural" in ways that are discriminatory, exclusionary, and othering.” -Prajna Choudhury, L.Ac

When I was at acupuncture school, I was one of only a few out students. We held semi-regular gatherings, and called ourselves the ‘Bent Needles.’ We laughed, we ate, and we talked about the challenges of learning to be healers when our lives and those of our future patients were not always acknowledged or centered. Like many other people who enter the healing professions, I wanted to provide the kind of healthcare to my community that I dreamed of for myself; compassionate, effective, and knowledgeable about the realities of my life.

Twenty years later, I celebrate being the Clinic Manager at Energy Matters, serving the people of the East Bay and beyond as part of a team committed to the healthcare I imagined back then; one that sees the whole person and meets people where they are. Happy Pride!

About the Author

Kirsten Cowan

A graduate of Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Kirsten Cowan has enjoyed many roles as a healer, including practicing as an acupuncturist and herbalist with a Health At Every Size© philosophy and specializations in dermatology and stress-management; producing handmade skin and bodycare through her company Angelica & Peony; and currently as the Energy Matters Clinic Manager, where she creates an environment for healing that supports staff and patients and revels in discovering new finds for the Energy Matters pharmacy and wellness boutique.

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