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Confrontational Activist And Gay Publisher Has Died.

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Tim Campbell

Gay activist and publisher Tim Campbell, has died. He passed away on December 26 at a local Houston hospice. He was 76. Campbell had suffered from an aggressive form of esophageal cancer.

Campbell founded the Twin Cities gay newspaper GLC Voice and served as its editor until 1992.

 

Cade Michals is an award-winning journalist and founder of About Magazine | About News, the leading provider of LGBT news in Texas.

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About Dallas

Aiming Higher with AIN

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AIN Dallas HIV/AIDS Treatment Counseling

AIN — a nonprofit that has been providing access to treatment, care, events, meals, and counseling to Dallas’s community of HIV-positive people for over 30 years — opened its new facility on Sept. 20th. Take a look around and learn more about them here.

The facility where a business is housed does not always matter to the employees working to make a difference; but in the case of AIN, it sure does help the experience. AIN — or Access & Information Network — is a growing not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides support to vulnerable, at-risk, and diagnosed individuals living with HIV in North Texas which has been growing in staff and volunteers for 32 years. Yet within that vast expanse of time, space has been limited as the number of individuals they wish to help has continually grown.

After sixteeen months of CEO Steven Pace working tirelessly to find a new space for AIN to grow in, the company moved into the new offices at 2600 North Stemmons Freeway, Suite 151 in Dallas, Texas. The move may have been a small one in terms of location movement, as the previous space for AIN was located across Stemmons Freeway from where they are now, but the new offices have placed AIN in the center of the Medical District in Dallas where it is much easier to access any doctors or medical offices that will be needed by clients of AIN. The Grand Opening Event of AIN’s new offices took place on September 20th, 2018 and was extremely well-attended by patrons, clients, and medical staff within the area.

AIN Dallas HIV/AIDS Treatment CounselingThe new office space is also having a huge effect on the staff and volunteers of AIN, as many members expressed how delighted they were with the spaciousness, layout, and organization of the new offices. Miranda Grant, Events and Volunteer Coordinator, was ecstatic when asked what she thought about the spaces:

“It’s such a large and inviting space, and in a wonderful location. Plus, I get my own office now, so that’s enough to make any employee happy!”

AIN Dallas HIV/AIDS Treatment CounselingMany AIN employees expressed the same. Reginald Peoples, AIN’s Van Transportation Coordinator for clients, expressed that he was “impressed with the larger office” and that he will have “plenty of space to direct his drivers now.

The Grand Opening Event allowed outside patrons into AIN’s new headquarters to meet its staff, and everybody there was in high spirits. One might expect to see the staff of a company behave appropriately and to be friendly, but AIN’s staff, interns, and volunteers seemed absolutely genuine about how welcoming, inviting, and approachable they were. Each staff member took the time to explain their roll within AIN and allowed patrons to ask any questions we had about their positions, answering with full confidence and a bright smile.

AIN Dallas HIV/AIDS Treatment CounselingAs shown at the Grand Opening Event, the offices are larger than ever. Each staff member has plenty of room to conduct their job, and clients are welcomed into a professional and healthy-looking environment that takes their best interests to heart. Clients are offered new amenities with this new office space. There is a beautiful interfaith space for meditation, peace, and prayer, and clients have ample room for meeting with case managers privately. Across the parking lot — honestly only about a 40-yard walk — the new Daire Center will be complete in 4 to 6 weeks and will provide meals from the built-in kitchen, a sleeping area for those who have traveled from outside the immediate counties around Dallas-Fort Worth, and other non-medical support and therapy that all clients will have access to.

With this new office space in the center of the Medical District, AIN aims to make its staff and volunteers happier and more organized and aims to make an even bigger difference with their clients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by offering amenities and counseling that they did not have the space for before. AIN is dedicated to serving the North Texas area by offering hope and helping create a world without HIV by putting its best foot forward within its new location and offices.

AIN Dallas HIV/AIDS Treatment Counseling


For more information about AIN, please visit www.AINDallas.org, or visit the offices during business hours from Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at 2600 North Stemmons Freeway, Suite 151, Dallas, Texas 75207, and call (214) 943-4444 for inquiries and appointments.

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About Events: Nourishing Our Queer Bodies

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LHI Houston The Montrose Center Nourishing Our Queer Bodies Queer Legacy Community Health

About columnist, Madyson Crawford, visits Nourishing Our Queer Bodies, an event hosted monthly at the Montrose Center, presented by LHI Houston in partnership with Legacy Community Health.

“What medicine do you bring? What medicine do you seek?”

Nourishing Our Queer Bodies is hosted every third Tuesday of the month in room 111 at the Montrose Center, located at 401 Branard St. in Montrose. In a small room, chairs were set up in a semi-circle and attendees were offered both chairs and yoga mats on which to sit and get comfortable. Food is served — this week it was pizza and Pepsi — and as folks trickled in, they were able to grab a plate and seat. In the front, Yucca stands behind a table filled with body and sex-ed coloring pages, crayons, zines on gender and sexuality, and swag from the Lesbian Health Initiative (LHI) of Houston that folks could take with them.

LHI Houston The Montrose Center Nourishing Our Queer Bodies Queer Legacy Community Health

Nourishing Our Queer Bodies is presented by LHI Houston.

Like at most facilitations, Yucca asked us to introduce ourselves: name, pronouns, what brought us there, and what we hoped to talk about in the future.

My name is Madyson. My pronouns are she/her. I came because I needed to be in a space with queer folks. I am building a new community in my hometown, and spaces such as these provide access to said community. I’m open to anything. I kinda came in blind so I’m not sure what we are gonna discuss. Just excited to be here.

Our first activity asked us to define what ‘nourish’ meant to us. In small groups we brainstormed words and phrases. We then put together a puzzle definition. Every group came to similar conclusions: to nourish meant something along the lines of feeding/caring/meeting the needs for the self. My group in particular related to a phrase that was common on social media: We are like plants. We all need sunlight and water. Nourishing was the radical act of not just surviving, but setting ourselves up to thrive. And for queer and trans bodies/people, this can be/is difficult to do. In fact, we all expressed that systems of oppression, self doubt/fear, and violence stood in the way of us nourishing ourselves.

Also Capitalism.

Yucca facilitated the event with a series of questions that forced us to reflect on whether or not we nourished ourselves and what we considered to be our acts of nourishment. For me, nourishment was reading books — even if it took me months — and sharing space with my little sisters. For others, it was physical intimacy, writing, talking to plants, talking to the self, and so forth. Nourishment varied for all.

LHI Houston The Montrose Center Nourishing Our Queer Bodies Queer Legacy Community Health

Nourishing Our Queer Bodies is hosted at the Montrose Center, 401 Branard St.

Talks of nourishment, however, would be incomplete without a real discussion about healthcare and access. Folks critiqued the treatment of “fat” bodies by doctors and physicians, creating a culture of poor care and neglect. Those who identified as gender nonbinary, genderqueer, and trans shared feelings of poor care because the healthcare system is not designed to care for those not in cisgender bodies. In addition, heteronormativity within healthcare and from physicians created a culture of discomfort for queer folks. Many of us not only wanted access to affordable/free healthcare, we also wanted access to respectful and responsible health. Healthcare that recognized and respected our personhood. Without that, nourishment for self would always fall short.

As we closed the event, Yucca did something I found to be the most beautiful part of the event. She played a podcast (insert title here) in which folks and (insert lyrics here). At the end of the event, we closed with the questions: What medicine do you bring? What medicine do you seek? I am reminded of the home remedies my grandmother created when I was sick. Rubbing my back and spoon-feeding me homemade chicken soup and garlic tea. Asking me to recite Christian incantations with her “Jesus by your stripes/strikes (I was never quite sure which it was) I’m healed”. This medicine is one that I, as an adult, have adopted and use to nourish and care for my sick body. What we need to nourish ourselves, I learned, is already within us. For those of us with close relationships with our ancestors and elders, it has been passed down for generations. Some attendees shared their understandings of that.

Medicine, in this context, was not rooted in a reactionary concoction meant to cure disease and illness. Rather, this medicine spoke to the holistic care we were seeking and were able to share with others. We began to share things such as laughter, open ears, open hearts, and vulnerability as medicine we could bring to the table. Medicine we could provide for our communities and ourselves. Afterwards we shared the desire to be wrong and loud, desires to be cared for, desires to be vulnerable with others as the medicine we were seeking.

LHI partners with Legacy Community Health for Nourishing Our Queer Bodies.

I left the facilitation feeling new and light. I had been in a room with eight other people who were interested in caring for ourselves and our bodies in radical ways. What did nourishment mean? How did we nourish ourselves? What stopped us from being able to nourish ourselves? Although so much of this was rooted in the self, Yucca managed to create a space where community was central. It was not just us who needed nourishment and it was not just us who provided nourishment. For many of us in the facilitation, we found nourishment in the people and spaces around us.

Nourishing Our Queer Bodies is a space that offers a radical reflection on the movement of health and self care, something folks have criticized as being capitalized on by companies and organizations. Specifically this speaks about those companies that only offers care for certain bodies that exist within the bounds of desirability and “normality” as well as rooted in an exchange and monetary values. Those looking for honest and open conversations of health and care may find this space comforting and challenging. I recommend queer folks looking for a community of care and support to attend these events when able. I left lighter and excited and full of reflections. I returned home to journal and light my incense and nourish myself, affirmed in decisions I had made that felt right for me. Like my group said before, we are just plants in need of sunlight and water.


For more information on the September meet-up of Nourishing Our Queer Bodies, you can visit the event page on Facebook here.

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Poem: How It’s Done

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How it’s Done Safe Sex Gay Poem SP Mulroy

how it’s done

after Sharon Olds’ “Sex Without Love”

If you’re smart, you do it safely—
you will wear the barrier, a second skin
that fits your vulnerable hungers
(and with practice) it will glide

on to you, natural as sweat
and calculated. Serpentine
the scales that you must grow
to tangle limb and teeth into another.

Fingers slither between fingers, laced
in hair and violence and in need, and this
is how the warm bridge builds itself
from wooden ritual and necessary glue.

As in sculpture, muscles swollen
to a stone intensity, and warm rain
weeping from your faces leaving
no mark. Unlike sculpture, muscles

melt, and the embrace is transient;
colossal wreck, the bare and boundless
limb and heaving chest, and sudden
strange departures. Still, no void

where nothing has been taken, nothing
filled, and if you have been listening
and careful, you’ll have worn your armor
and can rest, untouchable. Amused.

Do you believe me broken? Bitter? Vandalized?
Ask yourself, then, what is lost in lieu of risk.


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The Breast Cancer Scare of a Young, LGBTQ Woman

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Breast cancer Lgbtq Women Young Health

An About Magazine writer who wishes to remain anonymous talks about her breast cancer scare in her early 20s and the importance of young women getting screened regularly.

As a child, there was always one thing that recurred in my mind. I’m not sure if this is just an experience I had because of the people I knew or what; but, in my childhood, I constantly thought about breast cancer because I was constantly hearing about it. It turned up on every corner, beneath every stone I overturned, yet I had no idea what breast cancer even was. I barely even knew what cancer was in my younger years. We all have these moments in our lives–these moments of, “Oh no. This is a real thing that happens.” A grandparent gets brain cancer or skin cancer or lung cancer; a family friend falls bed-ridden, or maybe worse–a parent or sibling. We all have these ah-ha moments of revelation. Revelations of what cancer is; revelations that cancer is real; revelations that cancer is terrible. But we never think that it’s going to affect us personally. Sure, we’ve seen it on television and maybe even in our families. But that doesn’t mean we’re ever going to have to deal with it ourselves. Right?

I certainly didn’t think that it ever would. And why should I have? I’m young and in my twenties; and like most twenty-somethings, I have been victim to the feeling that nothing can touch me. For a while, I felt so far away from the possibility of cancer. It wasn’t something I’d thought about, sure. Cancer is this big terrifying disease and we all know that it’s out there. But no one, at least not myself, ever spent their time worrying about getting cancer.  It just wasn’t a fear that I had because, again, I earnestly believed that I was untouchable.

So, when I first found the lump, I didn’t think much of it. I had gone in for a breast exam once before only to be told that I had very dense breast tissue (I was never sure whether or not that was a compliment) So, when it happened again, I wasn’t worried. I put off going to the doctor; I told myself that it didn’t matter–that it was probably nothing to worry about. After all, I was only twenty-years-old and I had only ever heard of stories of older women dealing with breast cancer. I certainly wasn’t going to get it.

And maybe that’s part of the reason I’m telling this story. There was nothing out there for me; nothing to read that would make me feel better; nothing that would make me feel less alone.

After a few months of putting off going to the doctor — partly for financial reasons and partly out of fear — I finally made myself schedule the visit and go. I sat in the office of the OB/GYN, a place that I had never been before. Yeah. That’s right. This was my first experience with an OB/GYN. I had never had a pap smear or a well woman’s exam before. Just being in that office made my nerves rattle. It felt wrong to be there, like I was too young.

So, I waited.

And I waited.

And I waited.

I tapped my feet and checked my phone relentlessly. Maybe I’d get an important phone call and I’d have to leave altogether, that would have been a relief. I’d like to say that this was the worst part–the anticipation and the knowing nothing at all. Because at this point, I had no idea what to expect. I could walk in and they could laugh in my face for being so worried; conversely they could bring me into a small room with a desk and tell me the bad news. I mean, that’s how it always happens on television. Isn’t it?

Although, it turned out that I was wrong. That wasn’t the worst part at all. I thought that being clueless would be the worst. But as it turns out, knowing more, and yet still not enough … that’s much, much more terrifying. And I’m not trying to scare anyone here, I just want everyone to know the whole truth and what exactly goes down before, during and after you go in for a breast exam. Obviously I’m not a doctor and I can only speak from my one experience; but this is how things happened for me and I’m sure how they’ve happened for a lot of people.

First, one doctor (thankfully, a woman) asked me to place my arm above my head and then began to press firmly around my breast. It was obvious when she found the lump. I could see her expression change from welcoming to worrisome. Doctor Number One had another doctor double check her work and I began to grow more and more nervous. The room was cold and I had never felt more alone. Two unfamiliar doctors poked around like they were getting ready to dissect a frog.    

Immediately after the exam, the two doctors left the room. They felt around on my breast and then left me behind to continuously worry while they conferred in their office, I’m assuming.

It took a while for them to return to the room where I was; and while they were gone I had the perfect amount of time to conjure up a list of worst-case scenarios. I thought about everything I had seen on television and in movies and thought about what I would do if any of that happened to me. The thought that I could be okay after this didn’t even cross my mind. Sitting in that room, I was certain they were going to come back with bad news.     

But upon their arrival, they brought neither good nor bad news. They brought news of more tests. Next, they were to send me to a lab for an ultrasound and a potential mammogram. The first doctor said that this was because the lump was “too hard for my liking,” a sentence that would stick with me until I was able to get to the imaging center, which, as it would turn out, wouldn’t be for another few weeks.      

In those few weeks, I continued to think about what would happen if I actually had breast cancer. I researched and looked for stories of young people who had been through this. But through all my forays, I didn’t find much; and what I did find were all the bad stories. No one publishes their good news online, of course. Everyone had a bad story to tell, or one of recovery. This didn’t leave me feeling very optimistic. Still, a few weeks later I arrived for my appointment at the imaging center. I’ve always been in rather good health, so I’ve never had to get any x-rays or ultrasounds before in my life. I’ve never been the biggest fan of doctors. They’re all the same, hospitals and doctors offices and anything even remotely related. They all lead to memories of dying grandparents and sick relatives. Thus far in my adult life, I’d done the best to avoid them. But there I was, standing outside the office biting my nails and trying to figure out a plan in which I wouldn’t have to enter the hand soap scented office.     

The test didn’t take very long. A few minutes maybe. The gel was cold and the test was moderately uncomfortable. There wasn’t any pain, but being topless on a table isn’t exactly how I like to spend my time. Again, the technician left the room without a word to me. You would think that something so dyre as potential breast cancer would warrant a speedy answer. Nope. I was left sitting in another freezing empty room with only the comfort of a thin excuse for a shirt.

After what seemed like nearly an hour of waiting, the technician returned. She showed me the sonograms of the lump and explained to me what was going on. I stared at her in shock, debating whether or not I should give her a hug. Good news? I had sunk myself into a pit of despair knowing that I was going to get bad news. Good news, felt much better than I ever had expected it to. While I was happy that I wasn’t dying, I felt a new set of problems arise. I had worried everyone around me. For what? Now that worry was replaced with another, would they hate me for causing such a fuss over nothing?

They didn’t. I gave everyone the good news and they were all beyond ecstatic that I was cancer free. I had trouble explaining to them what was really going on. The science half of things wasn’t on my mind in the small room at the imaging center. When the technician explained the results to me, I was lost in my own head, celebrating the fact that I no longer had to stress about the entire situation.   

While the lump was (and still is) a tumor, it was benign. She explained it to me as something called a fibroadenoma–a non-cancerous tumor that most often occurs in young women, something I had never heard before. Fibroadenomas can still be painful and sometimes even still call for removal if they’re too big–they can even grow. And when someone has one, they’re often prone to have multiple.

I sat around for at least a month, waiting for the news that I was probably going to either die or have to have a mastectomy. And like I said, people don’t often write about the time they thought they had cancer only to find out that they didn’t. I just felt that this was something that needed to be said. And if there’s anything you can take away from this, it’s to not overthink things. Just because you have to have a breast exam, doesn’t mean you’re going to get cancer; and just because you have to have an ultrasound doesn’t mean you’re going to get cancer; and for the love of god, you are not untouchable.


For more information about breast cancer, screening, and prevention, visit this website.

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Introducing Dr. Eric Walser – Trailblazer in Prostate Cancer Treatment

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Just down near the Gulf in Galveston, Dr. Eric Walser and his team of talented medical health professionals at the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Wavelengh Medical are tackling prostate cancer in a new way.

(GALVESTON) – There are a number of medical concerns that plague the LGBTIA community. When we think about health crises, a lot of thoughts can tend to center around topics such as HIV/AIDS, safe sex practices, hormone replacement therapy, and suicide coupled with the dangers of untreated mental health. While none of these issues are necessarily specific to just our community, they have historically played a larger role in the lives of LGBTQIA people than they have in other communities. However, it is important for queer-identifying people to remember that these are not the only concerns that could arise in their lives. Queer people, just like all other people, are susceptible to problems in all the other varying realms of healthcare. One of which that does not discriminate against people of any sexual orientation or gender identification is cancer.

Dr. Walser and his staff at UTMB’s Wavelength Medical

Cancer appears in individuals of all sorts in various forms. For some, it can affect the brain, others the breasts, but can appear anywhere from within the bones to atop the skin and to any other part of the body. For many, this can mean the prostate. For those who aren’t familiar with the prostate, it is the gland that surrounds the bladder in people born anatomically male. It is the organ responsible for the propulsion of seminal fluid and the velocity of urination. And while it is known to be one of the more treatable cancers and has an extremely high survival rate, it is still an issue that—like all other cancers—can consume the patient’s life while undergoing treatment, especially so if left long undetected. Just like with all other cancers, the key to survival is early detection.

This isn’t just a problem for men, however. Often, the relevance of the prostate can even expand to transgender women, regardless of whether or not they’ve undergone reassignment surgery from male to female. As it turns out, during transitional surgeries (which often happen over the course of several procedures and after intensive hormone replacement therapy) the prostate is not typically removed due to potential complications with the surrounding nerves and blood vessels surrounding it. That said, trans women and those who identify as gender nonbinary, like cisgender men, should be cognizant of the need for prostate cancer screenings.

For this to happen, between the ages of 40 and 50-years-old, a person should be meeting regularly with a licensed physician (typically a primary care physician if the person has one) to begin having the prostate checked regularly throughout the remainder of their adult life. When this happens, the physician will be checking the patient’s prostate-specific antigen (or PSA) typically through blood test, looking to see if the patient has normal PSA levels. What is considerably adequate for good prostate health is a level under 4 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) in the blood draw. However, if that number is upward of 4 ng/mL, the doctor will monitor these levels to watch for an uptick. Because PSA levels are not diagnostic, they are not necessarily indicative of prostate cancer. This is only the first step in the process of obtaining a conclusive diagnosis. In fact, stimulation of the prostate resulting in an active gland can cause these levels to rise through exercise, manual labor, or sexual activity. The uptake in PSA levels could also very simply be due to a prostate that is inflamed, but not breeding cancerous cells. That being said, to rule out the chance of prostate cancer, the patient’s physician will at this point refer the patient to a specialist. From there, the specialist—a urologist (or a doctor who specializes in diseases of the urinary tract) in this case— will carry out measures to ascertain a diagnosis.

Now, this is where things get a bit more complicated. The most commonly practiced method for diagnosing prostate cancer from this point is for the urologist to perform what is known as a “blind” biopsy. What is meant by the word ‘blind’ is that the urologist has not performed an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in order to assess whether or not a cancerous lesion is visible on the prostate. The process of performing a biopsy without an MRI involves sticking approximately 12-15 needles into the gland to take samples.

Dr. Eric Walser

Enter Dr. Eric Walser, an interventional radiologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) and physician at Wavelength Medical practice who believes that this may not be the best practice of diagnosing prostate cancer. As a radiologist, Dr. Walser understands the importance and benefits of not performing a biopsy without imaging, and instead has the MRI performed preemptive of the poking and prodding in order to see if a biopsy is even necessary. By performing the scan ahead of the biopsy, Dr. Walser is able to screen for cancerous lesions in the prostate. If a lesion is found, a biopsy can then be ordered with a more specific target zone so that only 2-3 needles need to be inserted into the gland as opposed to the aforementioned 12-15. By minimizing the invasiveness of the procedure, Dr. Walser’s methods can decrease the chance of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction that can often be side effects of the biopsy. Additionally, a patient who undergoes a biopsy will still likely be asked to undergo an MRI, as well. Unfortunately due to the amount of blood that will appear on the scan if done too soon after biopsy, the patient can often be asked to wait anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks to have the MRI performed if the biopsy comes back positive. And while this isn’t the standard practice for physicians in this field, evidence supporting it is appearing rapidly. For example, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study just this past May, which concluded that having an MRI performed before a biopsy, or having an MRI-targeted biopsy performed, is the superior method of diagnosis.

Wavelength Medical UTMB Galveston Dr. Eric Walser Prostate Cancer LGBTQ

Wavelength Medical at UTMB in Galveston

But diagnosis isn’t where Dr. Walser’s interest in prostate cancer ends; and understanding his next move may come easier with a little background on his career. Dr. Walser once practiced medicine at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic’s campus in Florida where he was researching focal laser ablation (or surgical removal) of cancer from the lungs and liver. While researching these methods of treatment, Dr. Walser saw the opportunity to make a difference with those suffering from prostate cancer. For a long time, there were only a few options for conquering prostate cancer, which are still the most commonly practiced today. The first of which is radiation therapy (whether it be internal or external) to try to kill the cancer cells, which is sometimes accompanied by hormone therapy. Hormone therapy (though not a cure for cancer) is a method by which a physician will reduce the level of androgens in the body in order to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells, as cancer cells feed off androgens and use them to grow. Radiation, however, does not come without side effects, as radiation is toxic to organic matter, of which the human body is composed. According the American Cancer Society, radiation in its varied forms can lead to troubles with the bowels, urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and impotency. The other option, and often one of the more popular among physicians and their patients, is total removal of the prostate, or prostatectomy. This too can lead to issues of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, but also can leave damaging amounts of scar tissue that may affect a physician’s ability to cut through and reach the area necessary to treat the patient again if the cancer were to recur.

And that’s where Dr. Walser’s love of focal laser ablation is helping those with prostate cancer. With his method, Dr. Walser is using focal laser ablation to excise cancer with a laser rather than removing the entirety of the prostate or poisoning the body with radiation in order to keep the prostate intact and, in turn, minimize the invasiveness of the entire course of treatment—from diagnosis to recovery. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, recurrence of prostate cancer can happen in anywhere from 30-90% of people after initial remission. This relapse generally takes places after 5-7 years of treatment and remission. However, through his studies and practices, Dr. Walser is coming to find that the chances of recurrence using his methods is somewhere near 15%—a drastic difference. However, since laser ablation for prostate cancer is new, there is not enough follow up to fully compare it to traditional therapies.

Anne Nance, Nurse Practitioner

The process of the procedure is typically quite simple. Candidates for Dr. Walser’s program travel to UTMB on a Thursday night or Friday morning for a busy weekend. The first step in this process includes a mid-morning appointment with Dr. Walser’s in-house nurse practitioner, Anne Nance (APRN, NP-C), who talks with patients about their family histories, symptoms, plans, then rounds out to a procedure on a Saturday or Sunday with Dr. Walser (who kindly works weekends to better accommodate the schedules of his patients, who often travel from far beyond Galveston for treatment). The day of the procedure, patients can expect the ablation to last to last approximately 4 hours. From there, a catheter will be inserted into the patient due to the prostate swelling postoperatively, which closes the urethra and prevents urination. The catheter could be worn anywhere from 3-5 days, but sometimes even as little as 2. After that, the patient should take the time to recover for 1-2 weeks. Most patients can go back to normal activities of daily life soon after ablation, but should be mindful not to overexert themselves.

Rebecca White, Registered Nurse

But like all good tales, this story, too, has its down side. Because focal laser ablation of prostate cancer is new to this field of medicine, insurance companies typically do not cover the procedure, which can leave patients having to spend more money to have this performed. But that isn’t a deterrent for Dr. Walser and his team at UTMB, and isn’t always one for his patients. In fact, the team’s biggest concern is making sure that patient’s get treatment and are diagnosed adequately. Speaking with Rebecca White (MBA, BSN, RN) of Dr. Walser’s team at Wavelength Medical, she stated, “Let us help you with the diagnosis. [Patients] may not be able to afford the treatment, but the process of diagnosis is usually covered by insurance.” She went on to say that by having the MRI performed before the biopsy, it could eliminate an additional cost to patients who don’t need the biopsy performed if there are no lesions found by MRI. And the way Dr. Walser and his team are practicing their methods of diagnosis, that could end up being the case for many, as White also states that due to the practice of blind biopsy, there’s a large chance for misdiagnosis or over-diagnosis in this field.

So, even if it comes down to not being able to afford this specific method of treatment, at least the folks at UTMB’s Wavelength Medical can help guide patients through the process of diagnosing in a way that could end up being more cost-effective and to a lesser degree of pain and wait time than many other practitioners in their field. Just because the “disposable gay income” isn’t a myth for everyone in the LGBTQIA community does not mean that money has to be thrown away on tests that could prove to be unnecessary. And Dr. Walser and his staff are only truly concerned about the health and lifespan of those they treat and diagnose. If that means getting a person treated by way of radiation or prostatectomy because focal laser ablation is unaffordable, that’s what these fine people will help you to make happen. It’s also worth noting for the LGBTQIA community that UTMB was recently one of only three Houston-area medical facilities to be named as a “leader” by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) when it released its 2018 Healthcare Equality Index. This status bestowed upon UTMB is specifically awarded to the best of best, and is held in the highest regard with the HRC. In order for a facility to land this honor, they must score a perfect 100% on the HRC’s index, which takes into account a variety of factors, most notably LGBTQIA patient care and community outreach.

Cancer is scary; and prostate cancer gone undetected could considerably affect the lives of a great number of LGBTQIA people. Like other cancers, it can metastasize to other parts of the body and put a person at risk of larger health issues, some even resulting in death in the worst case. But with the help of people like Dr. Walser, Anne Nance, Rebecca White, and the rest of the incredible team at UTMB’s Wavelength Medical, it doesn’t have to come to that. With innovation like Dr. Walser’s and medical literature supporting these methods being researched and released consistently, their team is here to provide people who may be suffering prostate cancer with the opportunity to live a life not ruled by disease in a brand new way, while also redefining how prostate cancer is treated and the outcomes for patients.

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More Than Meets the Eye: Janae Kroc

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Janea Kroc bodybuilder lgbtq trans

An Interview with Transgender ‘Transformer’ Janae Kroc

Janea Kroc bodybuilder transformer lgbtq transYou don’t mess with Janae Kroc. One look at her and you’ll see why.

Born Matthew Raymond Kroczaleski, Janae – the transgender subject of the award-winning documentary Transformer – is a former Marine who made a name for herself (as Matt) as a competitive powerlifter and bodybuilder. In 2009, she set the male world record in the 220-pound weight class with 2,551 pounds. And while she’s not as powerful as she used to be (in the physical sense at least), she can still squash you like a bug: Last year, 18 months into her estrogen therapy, Janae lifted 210 pounds for 10 reps and deadlifted 605 pounds.

Recently, she has accelerated her transition from male to female, an evolution a decade-plus in the making, which has come with its own set of challenges.

In this new interview, Janae opens up about the discrimination she’s faced since coming out; how the bodybuilding community has both shunned and embraced her; raising three well-adjusted, supportive sons (she and their mother divorced as a result of her coming out); the long, costly road to gender-reassignment surgery; and how some burdens weigh more than any barbell she’s ever touched.


Mikey Rox: Janae – as Matt, you were a world champion powerlifter, badass bodybuilder, and a spokesperson for dietary supplement brand MuscleTech. You revealed in your new documentary Transformer, which screened at Miami’s OUTshine Film Festival recently, that you lost the latter gig after coming out as transgender. How did that happen?

Janae Kroc: MuscleTech actually found out that I was transgender several months before I was outted publicly. They had been sent some old pictures from my Facebook page, which was private at the time, and called me to ask if it was true. I immediately confirmed that it was and that, yes, I was in fact transgender and had been very open about it for years. They told me they were having a board meeting concerning this and would let me know their decision in a few days. When they contacted me again they were very clear that the reason they were letting me go was because of me being transgender. They immediately pulled all of my content from their websites and media advertising, cancelled all of my scheduled appearances for the remainder of the year, and informed me they would not be renewing my contract. They stated that while they were very happy with the job I had done for them over the previous eight years and really liked me as a person they felt that it would be very bad PR for them and it would hurt sales, especially overseas in the more conservative cultures.

MR: What’s your take on this, and is there any recourse for what amounts to blatant discrimination?

While this was clearly discrimination and I would have been protected under Canadian law had I chosen to pursue legal action (MuscleTech is based in Toronto), the job I was hired to do for them was very different than most. They had hired me solely to represent their products and to be one of the faces of their company. That was my job for them and what they were paying me to do. Even though I was shocked and I felt they made a very poor decision, the way I saw this was that if they didn’t want their company represented by a transgender person then that was their prerogative. I do feel that they missed a huge opportunity to do the right thing and that this will come back to haunt them in the future, but I chose not to pursue legal action against them.

MR: You’re in a similar position as Caitlyn Jenner being a world champion record and medal holder. When she was transitioning, there was a petition to revoke her Olympic medals because “Bruce” had won them and not Caitlyn. Ultimately the IOC took no action in that regard, but how do you feel about that personally?

JK: I feel that entire premise is absurd and merely a veil for extreme bigotry. Of course Caitlyn should be allowed to keep her medals, and anything I had accomplished in my life prior to transition was still achieved by me and I still deserve whatever accolades go along with those accomplishments.

Janea Kroc bodybuilder transformer lgbtq transMR: Do you feel like Matt is a separate person from Janae?

JK: I see Matt as simply a part of who I am. All of the traits I possessed as Matt that allowed me to achieve the things I did are still within me. Matt was simply a limited version of who I am; he was just a portion of who I am today. I will say that there are certainly differences between Matt and Janae, and my reactions to certain situations are markedly different now than they would have been in the past, but I still don’t view him as a separate person. I still lived through all of those experiences and they helped shape me into the person I am today. I see my current self as the evolution of who I am, and I am still evolving all the time.

MR: You came out to your three boys 13 years ago when they were young, and they’re each very well adjusted to your transition. That, for me, was probably the best part of Transformer – seeing how they interact with and accept you as you are. But have they always been so accepting? Were there any times when they pushed back, and how did you overcome that?

JK: Everyone is always shocked to hear this but it is the absolute truth: They have always been 100% supportive and accepting of who I am. Since I told them at such a young age, they had not yet been conditioned by society to view being transgender as a bad thing, so to them it was just another aspect of who I am. And since I never demonstrated any shame or gave them any reason to view it negatively, they have never had any reason to see it as something bad.

MR: Have they encountered any bullying as a result of the film? How have they dealt with that?

JK: Before I was outted publicly, we had discussed for many years the potential of me being outted and how they might be affected by that and how we should handle it. It was my biggest concern and why I had not come fully out publicly sooner. Fortunately, nothing has really changed for them. Some of their friends have asked questions or joked about it and we have heard rumors about other parents saying nasty things about me, but no one has ever said anything to our faces and they have not faced any discrimination as a result. I am also fortunate that all three of my boys are very secure in who they are, and any teasing from other kids does not have much of an effect on them. I think they have seen how I have handled all of the hate directed toward me and that has helped them to develop a similar attitude toward what other people might say or do. We recognize that when people say horrible things about me, it really says a lot more about them as a person than it does me.

MR: You revealed yourself as Janae to your mom for the first time in the documentary, and naturally she was anxious about it. I read on your Instagram, though, that she actually decided on your female name. I’m guessing you asked her to do that. Did that help her along her path to acceptance?

JK: The truth is my mom didn’t actually pick my name per se, but she did have a hand in helping me to decide on Janae. Janae was the name my mom had picked for me had I been born female. She told me that when I was a child and it always stuck with me. I thought it was a pretty name and unique, so when the time came to decide on a new name, Janae was the obvious choice for me.

Janea Kroc bodybuilder transformer lgbtq transMR: What’s your relationship like with your mom today?

JK: Unfortunately not much has changed. She has still only seen me as Janae the one time you see in the film. I have not gone to the family Christmas or other holiday celebrations in years as it’s clear that she’s concerned that my presence will make other people uncomfortable. I know this has been very difficult for my mom, and I try to keep in mind what kind of person she is. She does not handle any type of change well, and her primary coping mechanism is avoidance so this behavior is to be expected of her. I also feel bad because I know that still living in the small town where I grew up, she has had to endure a lot because of me coming out. People will walk up to her and say nasty things about me, and even her own mother – my grandma – has told my mom that it’s her fault for not instilling more religion in me. I try to keep those things in mind, but I also know that deep down she loves me – and that will never change. I think she will eventually come around, but it’s going to take me pushing her a bit to get her there.

MR: In the documentary, your dad, who you admitted was rather absent during your upbringing, said some pretty offensive but fairly typical things about your situation, specifically that he would “freak” if he saw you as Janae. Has that happened?

JK: My dad still hasn’t seen me as Janae yet, although that may change soon. Like my relationship with my mom, not much has really changed since the footage in the film was shot. He still hopes I’ll change my mind and thinks this is a mistake. However, he has said that no matter what happens he still wants me to be a part of his life, so that feels really good to know. I think, like my mom, he’ll eventually come around, but it will take some pushing from my end. We’ll see if he actually does “freak” when he meets Janae for the first time. [Laughs]

MR: You touched briefly on your sexual orientation in the film, expressing that you’re still attracted to women but open to dating a man. Can you explain that?

JK: Like my gender identity, my sexual orientation is somewhat blurry. I have always been very attracted to women and still am. I have never really found men attractive, but as a woman it does feel very natural to be in the feminine role with a man. I am open to dating whomever I feel a strong connection to, and it really has more to do with who they are as a person than their gender or genitals.

MR: Are you dating?

JK: Currently I am not dating, but I have recently met someone that I am very interested in. We actually met at the film festival in Toronto. We are still getting to know each other so who knows what will happen, but I will say that I could see this having long-term potential. I guess time will tell.

MR: If I may be more personal, has your hormone regimen affected to which gender you’re more or less attracted?

JK: They did not have any effect on who I am attracted to, although my body and self-perception have changed; the idea of dating men has become a more realistic possibility. As a male I had no interest in men whatsoever but as a woman I am at least open to the idea.

MR: You attended a local powerlifting competition in the film where a young straight male fan that idolized you praised you for your courage in coming out as transgender. I was blown away, frankly. That seems rather atypical given the often-toxic masculinity associated with this sport, so how did that encounter feel? Does that sort of thing happen often?

JK: Actually, there has been a lot more support from the powerlifting world than most people would expect given the sport’s reputation for an overabundance of testosterone, and I deeply appreciate every single person that has stood by me. Overall I would say the reaction to my coming out has been 50-50. About half of the community has been extremely supportive just like the guy you see in the film, and the other half has been more or less like most people would expect. I have had people message me privately to tell me they have burned the posters that I signed for them previously and other crazy things like that. The responses on public forums when I came out were even worse, but it was also mixed with a lot of people supporting me against the transphobic bigots. The women of the strength-training community have actually been my biggest allies, and I can’t thank them enough for welcoming me into their sisterhood and supporting me the way they do.

MR: You have really amazing bodybuilding friends – big, macho dudes – who have not only accepted you but seem to be incredibly compassionate and open with you. Did you expect that?

JK: When I first started coming out to my friends a little over 10 years ago, the process was extremely difficult and I was very unsure of what to expect. I was afraid they wouldn’t understand and that I would lose a lot of friends, but as I told them one by one, every single one of them has stuck by me and supported me 100%. I am very fortunate to have such good friends and so many close relationships. I think it helped that I was very open and honest and allowed myself to be vulnerable with them. They could see I was being sincere and how difficult it was for me. I think it speaks volumes about the quality of friends I have, and for that I will be forever thankful.

MR: In the film, you talked about how cost-prohibitive gender reassignment surgery is. Where are you at in the transition process?

JK: For the average adult trans woman to fully transition, it can often cost up to $100,000, and for trans men, even more. Personally, I have already spent $70,000 to $80,000, and I am still not finished. I am in the process of scheduling my bottom surgery right now and hope to get that done as soon as possible, but realistically it will probably be at least late this year or early next year before I am able to make that happen. Fortunately, more and more insurances in the United States are covering transgender surgeries and I really hope that trend continues.

As far as other procedures go, I am definitely going to look more into hair transplant surgery as not having to wear a wig would be huge for me. With my active lifestyle and love for the water, wigs just aren’t practical, and without one on it becomes very difficult for me to present as female with my very short and very thin hair. I am still very interested in breast augmentation surgery, but as long as I remain very muscular it is difficult to achieve a natural look so for now I am holding off on that. I also may revisit vocal feminization surgery at some point as the results from my first surgery aren’t as good as I was hoping. While my voice has definitely improved, I still view it as being more masculine than feminine and typically get read as male over the phone. The only other thing I would like to add in regard to my transition is that I also still identify as gender fluid and non-binary and my gender presentation varies from day to day. Some days I present completely feminine, but at other times more masculine. I continue to move in a more feminine direction, but it’s difficult to say where exactly I will end up and whether or not I will complete what most people would view as a full transition.

MR: Post-bodybuilding career, what are you goals now?

JK: As far as my training is concerned I still want to remain muscular and strong but lean and not quite as big as I was previously. I still waffle somewhat about whether or not to drop a significant amount of weight and transition into a more “athletic look” but for now that is on hold.

In regard to my overall life, I hope to continue speaking publicly about transgender and gender non-conforming people and the issues we face. I also hope to continue empowering women, especially those that are interested in pursuing strength sports, and do my best to promote equality as an intersectional feminist. Professionally, I hope to achieve enough financial independence to allow me to pursue those goals full time.

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Editor’s Note: Partnering with UTMB’s Wavelength Medical

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Wavelength Medical UTMB Galveston Dr. Eric Walser Prostate Cancer LGBTQ

In the United States, 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. About Magazine and the team at UTMB’s Wavelength Medical are teaming up to help raise awareness.

Dear Readers,

Cancer is an ugly word. It strikes terror in people, because what we know about cancer is universally negative. No one wakes up and jumps for joy at the thought that they or someone they love has cancer. And why should they? Cancer appears and grows in various parts of the body – some harder to treat than others – and affects countless numbers of people all across the world. And while About Magazine is no medical journal, we were presented with a rather unique opportunity by the medical health professionals at Wavelength Medical of the University of Texas Medical Branch last week with which we had to jump on board.

At that time, program coordinator, Rebecca White (MBA, BSN, RN) reached out to About Magazine and explained that the physician she works for, Dr. Eric Walser, is specializing in the treatment of prostate cancer – a cancer which is just as likely to affect the straight & cis community as it is the LGBTQ community. Only, Dr. Walser is innovating the ways that prostate cancer is treated – trying to eliminate the need for radiation or total removal of the prostate. After explaining to us the methods he’s implementing, About Magazine and Nurse White sat down to draw up the first four weeks worth of plans in a six-month plan to promote these new methods, as well as to raise awareness about prostate cancer and its treatment.

Wavelength Medical UTMB Galveston Dr. Eric Walser Prostate Cancer LGBTQ

Wavelength Medical at UTMB in Galveston

With that said, the contracts were signed today, and starting next Thursday, About Magazine will be bringing to our readers and viewers multimedia content that takes a deeper look at prostate cancer and how it affects the LGBTQIA community. We’ll be looking at ways to debunk myths about anal sex, discussing how trans women can continue to care for their prostate health through and after their transitions, looking at how hormone replacement therapy may or may not be increasing the risks of prostate cancer, explaining Dr. Walser’s methods of treating prostate cancer, and so much more. Through written content, video interviews, and interactive programming, About Magazine will be here to guide our viewers and readers down the right path to maintaining good prostate health.

We know that prostate cancer is just one form of cancer and that it is one of the most treatable forms. But we also know that by raising awareness, About and our friends at Wavelength Medical could help save the lives of LGBTQIA people, and maybe prevent the nightmares of radiation and prostatectomy. And our earnest hope is that by working with Wavelength, we’ll also be able to explore and raise awareness to countless other medical conditions that affect our community.

We hope you’ll stick with us on this journey and enjoy everything we will be bringing to you over the next six months (and hopefully longer!).

 

Best,

Anthony Ramirez, Editor-in-Chief

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Austin | San Antonio

Gay People Like Babies, Too

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Gay couples, gay men, surrogacy, men having babies

Men Having Babies executive director, Ron Poole-Dayan, talks his nonprofit, surrogacy, and … well … babies!

Beginning Friday, March 2nd, and going through the weekend, the now-national nonprofit, Men Having Babies, is bringing their traveling conference to Austin. The nonprofit hosts these expos in numerous cities from San Francisco to NYC to Brussels and beyond. MHB not only assists in the process of educating and helping gay male couples start families through surrogacy, but also aids them in the financing of their family-planning. Now here in Texas for their current expo, MHB executive director, Ron Poole-Dayan answered some of our questions about their organization, what they do, how they started, and what couples seeking to start families can expect from MHB.

Gay couples, gay men, surrogacy, men having babies

MHB board at the “Planning your surrogacy journey” workshop (NY 2017)

Let’s start by learning a bit more about how MHB came about to begin with

The origins of the organizations date back to 2005 when I asked the LGBT Center in New York City to create a monthly workshop for men who are interested in biological parenting. We began having monthly meetings, which we still have to this day, where we invited in people who could answer our questions. Over time a few men joined me to help facilitate the meetings, and that later became our first board. We organized our first modest seminar and someone suggested calling it “Men Having Babies.”

In 2012, we left the NYC LGBT Center and created an independent nonprofit organization, primarily since we wanted to create a financial assistance program, which was beyond the Center’s mission. Over time we started having larger events, and also in new locations: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Barcelona, Chicago, Dallas, Tel Aviv, Brussels, and this year adding Austin and Miami. The program has evolved to a two-day format with many more sessions, speakers, and topics.  Now we are consistently attracting packed auditoriums, and many of the attendees fly from far away to attend the conferences. Our membership now includes over 6500 future and current gay parents worldwide.

What’s the main draw to surrogacy v. adoption?

Gay couples, gay men, surrogacy, men having babies

Scenes from MHB’s 2017 Chicago conference

I have my own insights, but actually just recently a study came out by a team from several universities (including Columbia from NY and Cambridge from the UK) about “Gay fathers’ motivations for and feelings about surrogacy as a path to parenthood.” In fact, MHB assisted in recruiting a large part of the parents who participated in the study. The short answer is that, “most fathers chose surrogacy because they considered adoption to be a less desirable and/or accessible path to parenthood.”

Adoption may be considered as less desirable due to the challenges associated with the process (often private adoptions where the birth mother gets to choose the adoptive parents, subjecting us to scrutiny and approval by agencies or even teen mothers from middle America), or with the more difficult parenting challenges associated with older or special needs adopted children. And of course there is the universal desire for genetic offspring. In short: gay men choose surrogacy over adoption, if they can afford it, for the same reasons heterosexual parents (who can even more easily adopt) choose biological parenting over adoption.

Gay couples, gay men, surrogacy, men having babies

Jose Carlos and Jeff, recipients of MHB’s GPAP grants.

Having said this, it is important to stress that MHB does not advocate for surrogacy over adoption. In fact, some of our conferences — including the Austin one — feature adoption agencies alongside surrogacy resources. We just want to help the men make an informed decision about their path, and empower them to take that path in the most effective, mindful and affordable way.

We are gay parents and surrogates who got together to make the dream of parenthood a wider reality to more gay men — and in the process we believe we make society a better place for all of us.

What’s the success rate of MHB, as far as couples who actually make it to the finish line?

We know from feedback that many of our members become parents, but we do not track every single conference attendee — so we do not have the statistics. In general, I can tell you that once people actually embark on the journey — namely engage an IVF clinic to make embryos and an agency to match them with a surrogate — the vast majority have children. Indeed, surrogacy, while expensive, has higher success rates than adoption, and even heterosexual reproduction. We use technology that was developed for infertile people, with medically optimized gestational carriers and egg donors. It works and it is safe.

You are a father of a child of surrogacy, I’m told. What was this process like for you and your family

We did it many years ago, our twins are 17-years-old. We just assumed it should be possible, and luckily knew someone who knew someone that helped us find a lawyer in Boston who knew how to find a surrogate. We had very little guidance and resources, which is why I felt so strongly that something like MHB is needed.

How did MHB begin helping with the financial side of surrogacy?

As mentioned, our concern about the fact that surrogacy is beyond the [financial] reach of most people was a major motivation for establishing the organization. We knew that if we truly wanted to make a difference, we had to help people financially achieve the dream of having a family.  We wanted to give this opportunity to people who would otherwise not be able to afford surrogacy.

Gay couples, gay men, surrogacy, men having babies

Ryan and Blain, recipients of MHB’s GPAP grants, with their son

The first thing we did was to create the “Surrogacy Advisor”— a directory and ratings table for agencies and clinics populated by hundreds of actual reviews from parents who went through the process. The goal was to promote transparency and affordability by empowering prospective parents with unbiased reviews and statistical data on satisfaction levels, success measures, and real cost figures. This allowed future parents to save thousands of dollars by identifying affordable, effective providers they would otherwise not have heard about.

But the major achievement is the creation of the Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP), which for the last four years has gotten to the point that it annually provides dozens of prospective parents with over a million dollars worth of cash grants, discounts, and free services from more than fifty leading service providers.

Do you think that the importance of your nonprofit has increased in the recent political climate?

Of course. And, in particular, helping gay men form their families would contribute not just to their happiness, but it also drives much social change. Gay men with kids are extremely visible and help many people see us for who we are, human beings who want happiness like everyone else. And the surrogates who help us are all effective social change agents, as they become outspoken about equality — often in small middle-America communities.

If you could tell everyone in the world one thing about the services MHB offers or something that you feel they just really need to know, what would that be?

Gay couples, gay men, surrogacy, men having babies

Board member Michael Wetson, from Dallas, TX, (NY 2017)

Due to biological and social constraints, gay men as a category face the most obstacles in their quest for parenting, not the least of which is financial. Until MHB was established, there was not a single organization to assist gay men, who are not considered “infertile” even though they need substantial third party assistance in order to become parents. At MHB, we believe that when done correctly, surrogacy can be a positive, affirmative, and all-around empowering arrangement for everyone involved – and we are very active in creating ethical and practical guidelines to facilitate this. We are gay parents and surrogates who got together to make the dream of parenthood a wider reality to more gay men — and in the process we believe we make society a better place for all of us.


If you’re going to be in the Austin area this weekend, you can register for the expo and conference here.

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Austin | San Antonio

The Men Having Babies SOUTH Surrogacy Conference & Expo is coming to Austin

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After two successful events in Dallas, our 3rd Texas conference will be offered in Austin on March 3-4, 2018. It will offer gay men from Texas and beyond step-by-step guidance in their parenting journey, access to two dozen service providers from the USA and Canada, and information about financial assistance.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Men Having Babies (MHB) is a non-profit organization, led by parents and surrogates, that has helped thousands of gay men worldwide become biological parents since 2012.

Our Austin conference is one of six annual conferences held by Men Having Babies worldwide (menhavingbabies.org/south), with other conferences taking place in Chicago, Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Brussels, New York and San Francisco.

This two-day conference brings together medical and legal experts, current and future parents, and surrogate mothers. Prospective parents will benefit from practical and personal peer advice, and have opportunities to meet a wide range of leading providers from the USA and Canada at the Gay Parenting Expo, in breakout sessions and in private consultations.

“Similar to other conferences, this one draws people from far beyond the Austin area,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, Executive Director of Men Having Babies. “Among the dozens who have already registered are gay men from all parts of Texas, several states across the south and west, and even attendees from the East Coast who prefer not to wait for our Florida and NY conferences.”

The conference kicks off with a panel discussion comprised of gay surrogacy dads and the surrogates who helped them in their journeys. Two workshops will be offered on planning the surrogacy journey and a mindful look at surrogacy, based upon the accumulated knowledge of hundreds of gay men who have already gone through the process. Other sessions will cover the latest studies about gestational surrogacy, and insurance, budgeting, legal, medical and psychological aspects of surrogacy.

Proceeds from sponsorship and exhibiting fees will benefit MHB’s Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP), which annually provides dozens of prospective parents with over a million dollars’ worth of cash grants, discounts and free services from more than fifty leading service providers. The majority of the exhibitors at the Austin conference are supporters of GPAP, including platinum sponsors Simple Surrogacy and Fertility Center of Texas, as well as Gold sponsors: Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists, San Diego Fertility Center, Circle Surrogacy, Western Fertility Institute, CReATe Fertility Centre, and Family Source Consultants.

Over the last four years, GPAP has helped more than 500 couples and individuals achieve their goals of becoming fathers. “If we truly wanted to make a difference by establishing Men Having Babies, we knew we had to help prospective parents financially achieve their dream of starting a family, and the GPAP program does just this,” said Anthony Brown, MHB’s Board Chair. “We want to give the opportunity to people who would otherwise not be able to afford surrogacy”.

“Simple Surrogacy is Honored to be the Platinum Sponsor of Men Having Babies Austin Conference,” said Kristen Hanson, Executive Director of Finance and Contracts of Simple Surrogacy. “As one of the earliest supporters of the MHB Gay Parenting Assistance Program, we are delighted to see its growth. We feel very lucky to be a part of Men Having Babies’ continued stewardship in creating families!”

“We are honored to participate in the Austin MHB conference as it provides an excellent opportunity to share information on the path to fatherhood.” Said Dr. Jerald Goldstein, Founder and Medical Director at Fertility Specialists of Texas. “As a fertility center, we strive to provide intended parents with the expertise and resources, including financial assistance, that can help make this dream a reality.”

The event will take place on March 3rd, 3:30 p.m. – 8 p.m., and March 4, 9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. at the Austin Marriott South. In addition, MHB is offering a post-conference happy hour party at Austin’s Sellers Underground bar on Saturday, March 3, 8:30-10:30pm. The event is offered in cooperating with local and national LGBT organizations, and is open to the Austin LGBT community at large.

Go to menhavingbabies.org/south for registration and additional information.

Note: while the event is organized by a gay parenting organization, non-gay prospective parents are also welcome and will no doubt highly benefit from the information provided.

 


Press inquiries: Contact Ron Poole-Dayan, executive director of Men Having Babies ron@menhavingbabies.org / 646-461-6112. Interviews with parents, prospective parents, surrogates and experts can be arranged by request.

About Men Having Babies

With over 6500 future and current gay parents worldwide, the international nonprofit Men Having Babies (MHB) is dedicated to providing its members with educational and financial support. Each year over a thousand attendees benefit from unbiased guidance and access to a wide range of relevant service providers at its monthly workshops and conferences in NY, Chicago, Brussels, San Francisco, Dallas, Austin, Miami / Fort Lauderdale, and Tel Aviv. The organization’s Gay Parenting Assistance Program(GPAP) annually provides dozens of couples with over a million dollars worth of cash grants, discounts and free services from over fifty leading service providers. Collaborating with an advisory board made of surrogates, MHB developed a framework for Ethical Surrogacy that has received endorsements from several LGBT parenting organizations worldwide. In addition, MHB offers extensive online resources, a directory with ratings and reviews of agencies and clinics, a Surrogacy Speakers Bureau, and a vibrant online community forum.

More information: www.menhavingbabies.org

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