By Tricia Wilder

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Many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) young people have found the courage and support to be their most authentic selves because of the brave pioneers who came before them. And every June, LGBTQ communities around the world come together to celebrate their strength, resilience and activism.

Despite the progress made since Stonewall, archaic legislation at all levels of government continues to threaten LGBTQ people’s ability to access health care, raise their families and live their most authentic lives. We’re seeing truly appalling bills and rhetoric targeting LGBTQ communities, especially transgender and gender-nonconforming people, and repeated attempts to undo nearly a half-century of progress in the fight for civil rights, justice and equality.

For example, the Trump-Pence administration has rolled back Title IX guidance that prohibits schools from discriminating against transgender students. In March, it issued a far-reaching Department of Health and Human Services rule that would allow health care workers to deny patients’ access to care and information for women and LGBTQ people based on their personal beliefs.

LGBTQ people are often less able to access quality health care, so they are more likely to rely on federally funded programs. The attempts by extreme politicians to repeal the Affordable Care Act, gut the ­Medicaid program and prohibit patients with Medicaid insurance coverage from coming to Planned Parenthood would compound the obstacles that can stand in the way of access to essential and lifesaving health care.

Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette understands that LGBTQ people come through our doors needing high-quality, affordable health care that affirms their identity, their family and their sexuality — as well as the ability and resources to make their own personal medical decisions with dignity. It’s why we are proud to provide compassionate care and nonjudgmental sexual health information, including vital preventive services like cancer screenings, STI ­testing and treatment and birth control.

In addition, Oregon is one of 20 states where Planned Parenthood offers hormone therapy, either estrogen or testosterone, for transgender patients. We see this critical service as one that goes to the heart of our mission. Gay and bisexual men as well as transgender women — particularly those of color — continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV. Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette recently expanded critical HIV prevention and education efforts by offering pre-exposure ­prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily drug regimen that helps prevent HIV when taken correctly. It’s covered by most insurance plans, and we can help uninsured patients find a medication assistance program that may help pay for PrEP.

We also know that LGBTQ youth lack accurate and queer-inclusive sex education. Our education experts strive to offer such programs, as well as provide safe and supportive environments that allow youth to get the information and support they need to make healthy decisions and feel comfortable in their identities.

Year after year, LGBTQ people of all ages have stood up to oppression and moved this country forward. Pride Month is the perfect time for their parents, relatives, neighbors, colleagues and friends to also stand firm against those who would seek to deny rights or services to LGBTQ people, simply because of who they are or who they love.

Everyone deserves access to expert, affordable health care and protection from discrimination. Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette understands that the struggle for LGBTQ liberation is deeply connected to justice for all. As we continue to fight back against those who wish to take this country backward, we reaffirm our commitment to building a world where no one experiences discrimination or violence because of their gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.

— Tricia Wilder of Bend serves as regional manager for Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette.

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