Dedicated to Improving Pelvic and Abdominal Health Globally

Posts Tagged ‘minority’


Culture Map Series: An Introduction to Transgender Health (Part 1)

Posted on: August 10th, 2016 by Aika Barzhaxynova No Comments

Uchenna OssaiBy Uchenna Ossai, PT, DPT, WCS, CLT

As an educated, Black, heterosexual female, I never considered myself to be a member of any majority. Never ever. If someone 10 years ago told me I was, I would have quietly dismissed the person as being incredibly tone deaf.

Before I started working and treating individuals in the transgender community, I knew I had to take the time to understand and learn their history and the challenges that plagued their community. It was through this work that I was able to recognize the overlooked privilege that I quietly benefited from simply by being a heterosexual female who identifies and expresses herself as a woman.

I became overwhelmingly aware of how my sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression never entered into my decision-making when selecting a place to live, a healthcare provider, or a job. Nor did these traits potentially harm my overall health status. This was very sobering and a game changer for me, not only as a Black woman, but also as a healthcare provider.

The experience of being a transgender individual is complex and varied; it is so much more than bathroom access and picking the right pronouns.

The systemic discrimination of the transgender community has resulted in multiple challenges that are shared with other minority groups: safety, violence, housing, mental health, fear, diminished health status, legislative barriers, long-standing community marginalization, and job discrimination.

However, it is the intrapersonal (internalized discrimination), interpersonal (family/friend rejection, bullying), and structural (housing, laws, etc.) discrimination and stigma that are the most influential and causative factors to healthcare disparities within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities.

To be clear, the minority experience is by no means uniform across each group. However, the differences are particularly palpable and devastating for individuals who identify as transgender.

The statistics are arresting: The transgender community is disproportionately affected by depression (44%), anxiety (33.2%), HIV/STD status (28%), and attempted suicide (41%). The attempted-suicide rate in this populace is 26 times that of the general population and is of particular concern among transgender adolescents and teens.

When you add racial and/or ethnic factors to gender identity and expression, we see these numbers increase significantly, compounding the impact of discrimination and stigma.

A key factor for successful outcomes for transgender youth is family acceptance. Adolescence is a pivotal period of gender and self-identity. Support and guidance by family and/or social and religious leaders can profoundly affect the psychological development and self-efficacy in transgender youth.

Minority stress (structural, interpersonal, and intrapersonal) deeply influences the health status within the LGBTQ community; however, research consistently concludes that the single most influential barrier to access of inclusive and comprehensive healthcare is the lack of expertise in transgender care within the medical and health professional community.

In part two of my series, I move beyond this snapshot of the issue’s historical and cultural implications to the steps we as providers can take to improve the health of transgender people.

AUTHOR: Uchenna Ossai, PT, DPT, WCS, CLT, is treasurer of the Section on Women’s Health. References and citations for Parts 1 and 2 are at the bottom of Part 2.






Scholarships and Peer Recruitment Help Attract Minorities into the Physical Therapy Profession

Posted on: May 23rd, 2016 by Aika Barzhaxynova No Comments

By Kimmi Edwards, DPT

2016 APTA Minority Scholarship winner Kimmi Edwards, DPT, calls for expanded support of minority PT students to diversify the profession.

2016 APTA Minority Scholarship winner Kimmi Edwards, DPT, calls for expanded support of minority PT students to diversify the profession.

Do you have strong feelings about whether minorities are well represented or recruited into the physical therapy (PT) profession?

Physical therapy began as a predominantly woman-dominated profession. Now men are entering at a faster rate than other minority populations in our midst.

However, this historically predominantly white profession has seen only a minute increase of minorities now accepting this profession as a career path.

“Why?” I wondered. When you go into a black society and ask the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  The answer is often a lawyer, engineer, doctor, or professional athlete.

Rarely do you hear “an occupational therapist,” “a physical therapist,” or even “a speech therapist.”  Society at large is still uneducated about our profession or has any idea how successful, rewarding, and happy our careers are!

Do we as professionals and future professionals do a great job of reaching out to communities and advocating for this profession? What makes these boys and girls want to become a lawyer, doctor, or professional athlete? Is it because they don’t know the PT profession exists?

Possibly. There is certainly a huge gap in student applicants for physical therapy programs when it comes to minorities, which led to my decision to survey Alabama PT schools about minority attendance. I am not from Alabama, but I recently graduated with my Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) from Alabama State University.

As of May 10, 2016, there are four DPT schools in Alabama with 404 physical therapy students, 56 being minorities (13.86%). Taking these numbers into consideration, I question whether other states have similar statistics? What can be done to improve them? More importantly, what can I do about that change?

Thankfully, the profession does offer some opportunities such as American Physical Therapy Association Minority Scholarships that support the success of minorities. Scholarships of this nature can help not only attract future diverse PT students into our field for the extensive good we do for our patients, but also communicate that physical therapy has a welcoming professional culture for minorities.

Current minority PTs, in particular, should continue their tremendous encouragement and recruitment of other minorities. If boys and girls in underserved communities can see and hear firsthand about our profession and its success from minorities they can identify with, more progress can be made toward attracting them to PT career options.

I want to make minority scholarships better known to students by referring them to learn the latest on APTA’s Honors and Awards web section. Students can submit applications or be nominated—as can professors–every September, but PT and physical therapy assistant students must in their final year of PT education.

In 2016, eight PT students and four PTAs students in the United States won scholarships supported by the Minority Scholarship Fund, to which the Section on Women’s Health-APTA recently donated $500. Anyone else interested in donating to the Minority Scholarship Award may contact Johnette Meadows, [email protected].

Together, we all can change the physical therapy profession, particularly in men’s and women’s health, to better reflect the diversity of the patients we serve.

Author: Kimmi Edwards, DPT, is a 2016 APTA Minority Scholarship winner and Section member. She can be reached at 

[email protected]. Note: The statistics above apply only to PT, not PTA, programs in Alabama state universities.



[email-subscribers namefield=”YES” desc=”” group=”Public”]






Latest Tweets

  • Loading tweets...