Celebrating the Lesbian Health Fund 2023 Grant Recipients!

The Lesbian Health Fund (LHF), a fierce advocate for enhancing the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ women and girls, is excited to unveil the recipients of its 2023 grant program. This year marked our most substantial grant distribution ever, demonstrating LHF and GLMA’'s unwavering dedication to advancing initiatives that address the distinct health needs of LGBTQ+ women and girls.

Congratulations to the 2023 Lesbian Health Fund Recipients:

Laura Sinko, PhD, MSHP, RN 

Department of Nursing at Temple University College of Public Health 

Proposal: Exploring the help-seeking and healing journeys of LGBTQ+ survivors of gender-based violence

Awarded: $10,000

Mary T. Guerrant, PhD

Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Union College

Proposal: s3x: Patterns and possibilities of utilizing TikTok to improve LGBTQ+ women's sexual health

Awarded: $10,000

Liz Kvach, MD, MA 

Associate Professor of Family Medicine with the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Family Medicine Residency.

Proposal: Barriers and Facilitators to Access Gender Affirming Vaginoplasty for Transgender Women of Color

Awarded $10,000

Sara Kebede

Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR) candidate at Emory University

Proposal: Natural Language Processing Applications for Transgender Health Research: Setting-up Input Parameters

Awarded: $9,513

Lexie Wille, MA

Doctoral candidate in Counseling Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin

Kristie A. Wood, PhD

Recent graduate from Counseling Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin

Proposal: Testing the user experience of an adapted dignity therapy protocol for LGBTQ+ women with terminal cancer: A pilot study

Awarded: $5,350

Lesbian Health Fund Vice President Kodiak Soled, PhD, MPhil, MSN, RN has issued the following statement:

"During a time when LGBTQ+ healthcare is in peril, we are proud to offer funding to six exceptional researchers whose work will be a crucial step in advancing the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ women and girls. These five studies are not only timely and impactful, but they will also fill missing gaps in research that will move the needle on health equity for our communities. We could not be more honored to support and empower these inspiring researchers in realizing this foundational work."

Thanks to the generous contributions of our supporters, we are able to provide grants for groundbreaking research and initiatives that tackle the unique health challenges faced by LGBTQ+ women and girls. This year, Everytown partnered with LHF for the first time by donating $10,000 to support a research proposal on gun violence prevention among LGBTQ+ women and girls. This is a critical area that is often overlooked, despite the fact that this marginalized population experiences higher rates of violence compared to their non-LGBTQ peers.

GLMA President Nick Grant, PhD, ABPP, has issued the following statement:

"This year marks an exhilarating milestone as we allocate our largest ever pool of grant funds. I take immense pride in being a part of this endeavor to redirect funding towards this historically underfunded segment of the LGBTQ+ community. The recipients of this year's grants are remarkable professionals whose pioneering research contributes to the advancement of health equity for LGBTQ+ women and girls."

The 2023 recipients comprise a varied cohort of dedicated professionals, all united in their mission to foster a healthcare landscape that is inclusive and equitable. Take a look at the insights shared by each of our esteemed grantees below.

Mary T. Guerrant, PhD

“As a queer person growing up in rural Oklahoma, the sex education I received in public school was far from inclusive. My experiences aren’t unique; these sentiments have been echoed by participants and community advisory board members in my previous research. A lack of adequate sex education intersects with other factors to produce significant inequity in terms of sexual and reproductive health outcomes for LGBTQ+ women and those assigned female at birth (AFAB). LHF funding allows me to conduct research to better understand gaps in sex education and their impacts on health for LGBTQ+ women and those AFAB, and perhaps more importantly, to develop online resources which can help fill these gaps. This work is fulfilling to me personally and professionally as I work toward my career goal of producing research which can improve health for LGBTQ+ populations.”

Liz Kvach, MD, MA 

“I am absolutely thrilled and grateful to be awarded this grant from the Lesbian Health Fund, mainly because of the project’s potential to partner with a patient advisory board of transgender women to positively impact the community. As a family physician and clinician-researcher, I believe I have a responsibility to identify and address health disparities that impact health equity for patients and communities where I work, especially those related to structural racism. Specifically, with this funding we will be able to address a gap in the literature by identifying obstacles transgender women of color (TWOC) face in accessing gender affirming vaginoplasty, as well as what factors would help them move forward with surgery.  Findings will be used for quality improvement to directly address racial disparities in access to gender affirming surgery at our institution for TWOC, and also shared widely. This funding will lay the foundation for future projects to continue to promote health equity for TWOC. “

Sara Kebede

“Receiving funding for this study will be instrumental in establishing a flexible framework that can adapt to the evolving LGBTQ+ language and pave the way for future investigations into the long-term complications of gender affirming surgeries. This financial support will not only empower me to contribute to enhancing the health outcomes of transgender and gender diverse patients, but also serve as a significant milestone in my career and contribute greatly to my professional development.”

Laura Sinko, PhD, MSHP, RN

This funding is extremely important because it allows myself and my team to better understand how to support the healing of LGBTQ+ survivors of gender-based harm. This will provide vital pilot data to support the future development of tailored interventions and advocacy for more inclusive supports in the survivor care space.”

Kristie Wood, PhD

This funding facilitates so many things that excite me personally and professionally. This funding supports work that: 1) will give voice to a marginalized population in their-- likely, most fragile time: end-of-life;  2) uses cutting-edge methodology, including user experience research to understand the experience of our participants as they engage in an end-of-life dignity-promoting psychotherapy, and 3) will help us to create scalable, accessible psychotherapy tools with far-reaching impact for LGBTQ+ women at end-of-life. Additionally, this funding allows me to work with some of my favorite people I have met along my research journey: Lexie Willie and Mike Parent. We have long term plans to create a program of research for LGBTQ+ persons with serious illnesses (for example, late-stage cancer) who face the tasks of end-of-life. End-of-life is a sacred time of reflection and vulnerability; I am honored to receive funding that enables us to bear witness to and help commemorate the strengths and challenges as LGBTQ+ women with cancer-- all while figuring out how to do it even better in an eventual randomized controlled trial.”

Lexie Wille M.A.

This funding matters to me because it represents an investment in the wellbeing of my community. LGBTQ+ women in general are an important and understudied subgroup of the LGBTQ+ community, and LGBTQ+ women with cancer have unique end-of-life care and existential needs that often go unaddressed. This work will explore the user experience of an end-of-life psychotherapy intervention that is adapted for the LGBTQ+ community. Our hope is that this work will provide insight into how therapists and healthcare providers can best support and offer comfort to LGBTQ+ people with life threatening illnesses. This grant from the Lesbian Health Fund will allow myself and my co-authors to pursue a body of research that attends to the existential concerns of LGBTQ+ people at the end of their lives, and assists them in navigating the end of their lives with dignity.”

About the Lesbian Health Fund:

Since its inception in 1992, the Lesbian Health Fund has awarded more than $1 million in grants, supporting research and initiatives that aim to improve the health of LGBTQ+ women and girls. The LHF is committed to promoting research and services that improve the overall health, wellness, and quality of life for all individuals in the LGBTQ+ community.

Details of the projects funded by this year's grants will be featured on the LHF's website. We look forward to seeing the progress and achievements of these remarkable grantees throughout the year.