Why Diversity and Inclusion Matter
Honestly, I don’t want to have to tell you why diversity and inclusion matter. I wish it was something we all instinctively understood. In the endo blogging space, I can see how diversity and inclusion could seem irrelevant. But it’s my firmest belief that diversity and inclusion are always relevant — as they must be. After all, if we want to achieve true equality in every area of our lives, we must talk about equality in every area of our lives.
I also recognize that “just talking about it” is not enough. As allies, we must use our privilege to act on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. It’s not my voice you should be listening to — it’s the voices of POC; the voices of trans womxn; the voices of non-binary folx — but as a white, straight-passing, cis woman, I know that I will have an easier time being heard than many of my brothers and sisters.
For these reasons, I feel a responsibility not only to speak, but to act. We cannot be passive in the pursuit of change. We must actively do what we can to support others who less privileged than ourselves. My blog provides me with a platform, and I believe in using that platform for the benefit of the movement for equality — which is why I would like to speak to you about the importance of this movement when it comes to reproductive health.
My boyfriend is a doctor, so I am more intimately acquainted with the medical system than most. That’s why I can confidently say that healthcare is racist. The way endometriosis and other reproductive health conditions are treated is racist. And while we’re at it, it’s homophobic, too. It’s a glaring truth that Black and queer people are disproportionately affected by disparities in healthcare. If you don’t believe me, here are the facts:
- Black Americans are dying from the COVID-19 pandemic at a rate 2.4 times higher than white Americans.
- If Black Americans and white Americans were dying at the same rate, 13,000 Black lives would have been saved. (Scientific American, 2020)
- 22 percent of Black women report experiencing discrimination in healthcare. (National Partnership for Women and Families, 2018)
- Matching Black patients with Black doctors could improve health care delivery, but Black doctors only represent 5 percent of doctors in the United States. 56 percent of doctors in the U.S. are white. (Association of American Medical Colleges, 2018)
- Black women are more likely to be uninsured and face financial barriers to care than their white counterparts.
- They are more likely to live in the South, where many fall into the “coverage gap” as a result of red states failing to expand Medicare and Medicaid programs. (National Partnership for Women and Families, 2018)
- Black women face more obstacles to accessing contraceptives and abortion.
- Black women have higher rates of unintended pregnancies than all other racial groups, and are four times more likely to die in pregnancy than white women. (National Partnership for Women and Families, 2018)
- Many reproductive health issues disproportionately affect Black women.
- Breast cancer incidence rates are higher among Black women over 60, and breast cancer death rates are 40 percent higher among Black women than white women. Breast cancer is more likely to be found at an earlier stage in white women than Black women. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018)
- Black women are more likely to have fibroids, benign tumors of the uterus, than white women. These fibroids occur at a younger age and grow more quickly for Black women. Women with fibroids are at an elevated risk for uterine cancer. (National Partnership for Women and Families, 2018)
- Black women are significantly less likely to receive an endometriosis diagnosis than white and Asian women. Due to discriminatory beliefs about Black women’s sexuality, their pelvic pain is often dismissed as the result of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) caused by untreated STIs. (Contemporary OB/GYN, 2019)
- Rates of infertility are twice as high among Black women as white women, yet only 8 percent of Black women receive infertility care, compared with 15 percent of white women. (Endometriosis Foundation of America, 2020)
- Black Americans are underrepresented in medical research. (Endometriosis Foundation of America, 2020)
- Black women are disproportionately affected by fibroids, yet represent only 15 percent of the research population in published clinical trials for the condition.
- In trials for 24 of the 31 cancer drugs approved since 2015, less than 5 percent of participants were Black.
- Nearly 80 percent of all individuals included in genomic studies are of European descent.
- The LGBTQIA population is also disproportionately affected by certain health conditions — especially mental health conditions.
- Young Black men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately affected by HIV.
- From 2008 to 2010, HIV infections rose by 20 percent among Black MSM. (Fenway Health Institute, 2016)
- Sexual minority youth are more likely to develop disordered eating behaviors and disturbances in body image than their heterosexual peers. (Fenway Health Institute, 2016)
- The LGBTQIA population experiences more depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders, and are much more likely to attempt suicide, than heterosexual people. (Fenway Health Institute, 2016)
- LGBTQIA individuals are more than twice as likely to smoke as their heterosexual peers. (Fenway Health Institute, 2016)
- Young Black men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately affected by HIV.
- Bisexual people face additional health concerns, despite falling victim to bi erasure.
- Bisexual youth are much less open about their identities at home compared with their gay and lesbian peers, resulting in elevated stress among bi youth ages 13-17. (Human Rights Campaign, 2019)
- 61 percent of bisexual women experience sexual assault, compared with 41 percent of lesbians and 35 percent of straight women. (Human Rights Campaign, 2020)
- Transgender and non-binary people also face additional health risks.
- Transgender high school students are more likely to fall victim to violence, abuse substances, and commit suicide than cis-gender peers. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017)
- More than half of transgender teens engage in disordered eating behaviors to change the shape of their body or intentionally lose their menstrual period. (Stanford Medicine, 2019)
- 47 percent of transgender people are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. (National Center for Transgender Equality, 2015)
- Transgender people who want to feminize their bodies may place their health at risk by using “street” silicone injections to add feminine curves. This practice can lead to serious complications and even death. (Planned Parenthood, 2020)
- It is prohibitively difficult for trans and non-binary people to access healthcare, and especially reproductive healthcare.
- The Trump Administration recently revoked healthcare protections for trans and non-binary individuals, changing the Obama-era definition of gender to refer to a person’s sex at birth, rather than their internal sense of being male or female. (Time, 2020)
- 1 in 5 non-binary people have been denied medical treatment based on their gender identity. (New England Journal of Medicine, 2018)
- 73 percent of nonhospital clinics that provide abortions to trans and non-binary patients do not provide transgender-specific care. (National Partnership for Women and Families, 2020)
My Pledge as a Blogger
As a blogger, I have long stood by the importance of diversity and inclusion in blogging. (Read this post for proof that I started caring long before any protests started.) But I can do better. I know I can. In fact, I know that we all can. And here’s where I’m starting — I hope it will inspire you to make changes in the way you live your own lives and the way you use your own platforms for good.
Black and POC Voices
- I currently donate $10 per month to The Innocence Project, a non-profit organization working to exonerate people who are wrongfully convicted of crimes using DNA evidence. 61 percent of prisoners who have been exonerated by The Innocence Project since its inception are Black.
- As of July 2020, the amount of money I make from sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, and advertising on Heal with Haley is negligible. Any money I donate comes from the income I make from my full-time job as a freelance writer. However, if the financial status of Heal with Haley ever changes, I commit to being transparent about how I am using the funds to benefit Black lives.
- I will continue to speak out social media about causes important to Black lives. However, I will not content myself with performative actions. I will also supplement awareness-raising actions with donations, shopping at Black-owned businesses, signing petitions, and, when possible, attending protests.
On the Blog
- As you’ve probably noticed, I use stock photos on all of my blog posts. I have been paying attention to the sizes, sexual orientations, and races of the models in my photos since this site’s inception. Still, I want to renew my pledge to continue using stock photos from inclusive sites like Unsplash and featuring Black models.
- This blog features roundups of wellness products, skincare and beauty, fashion, and stationery in addition to my endo posts. I commit to being conscious of the brands I am featuring on this blog. I will no longer shop at or feature brands like ban.do, Anthropologie, or Everlane that have been exposed for their racist work culture. If sponsorship opportunities are presented to me in the future, I will ensure there is at least one Black influencer on the campaign before accepting the role.
- In product roundups, I will always feature at least one product sold by a Black-owned business.
- I am bisexual, but rarely speak about my experiences as a bi woman. Part of this has to do with unsupportive family members (I was outedby a family member I no longer speak to), and part of it has to do with the fact that I don’t feel “bi enough” because I have only been with men. However, I feel the time has come to break my silence on this issue. I would like to be as publically involved in the LGBTQIA community as I can to inspire others and promote representation, while still maintaining healthy boundaries for my protection from said family member.
- I will not participate in rainbow capitalism. If I purchase Pride apparel, I will consciously purchase it from LGBTQIA-owned businesses — and queer Black-owned businesses whenever possible.
- I currently have limited funds to allocate to charity, and have prioritized donating to BLM-related causes and The Innocence Project. In the future, however, I would like to set up a monthly donation to The Trevor Project, whose primary goal is to prevent LGBTQIA suicides.
- As I mentioned previously, I do not currently make an income from Heal with Haley. I work full-time as a freelance writer. However, if anything changes, I promise to be transparent about how I am using the funds from this blog to support the LGBTQIA community.
On the Blog
- I will continue to use inclusive stock photos of LGBTQIA couples, non-binary folx, and transgender people whenever possible, as well as inclusive language — such as “people with periods” or “people with endometriosis” — to acknowledge trans and non-binary people with periods and/or endo.
- In posts providing sexual health advice, I will acknowledge sexual health tips that cater to LGBTQIA audiences as well as heterosexual individuals, including transgender and non-binary people. Moving forward, I will also be more transparent about the disparities in reproductive healthcare for those of us who identify as LGBTQIA.