For the first time, Doctors Manitoba will officially march in a Pride parade this weekend — a move the physicians advocacy organization’s new president says is long overdue.

For the first time, Doctors Manitoba will officially march in a Pride parade this weekend — a move the physicians advocacy organization’s new president says is long overdue.

"We recognize we should have joined this many years ago," Dr. Candace Bradshaw said Friday.

As physicians, Doctors Manitoba members need to make clear and public commitments about validating LGBTTQ+ patients, Bradshaw said, something integral to building trust.

<p>Bradshaw said as a family physician in Winnipeg, she is often the entry point to health care for LGBTTQ+ patients. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Bradshaw said as a family physician in Winnipeg, she is often the entry point to health care for LGBTTQ+ patients. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

"Being part of the Pride (Winnipeg) parade (Sunday)… is a statement to our patients, saying, ‘We support you, we stand up for you, now we’re marching for you, because it’s the right thing to do, period.’"

Entering her one-year term as president last month, Bradshaw said she recognizes there remain a range of barriers members of the LGBTTQ+ community face in accessing health care in Manitoba.

One of her key priorities in the role involves promoting issues of equity, diversity and inclusivity, but she acknowledges physicians must first acknowledge past harms perpetrated on the community makes people hesitant to trust.

Pride Winnipeg schedule for this weekend:

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Pride Festival

Saturday and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.

The Forks

Pride Rally

Sunday; 10 a.m.

Manitoba Legislative Building, west lawn

Pride Parade

Sunday; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Muster at corner of Memorial Boulevard and Portage Avenue

"It’s heartbreaking knowing there are a lot of patients who are afraid to open up… about gender identity or sexual orientation," she said in an interview with the Free Press. "People are just constantly in fear of being judged, shamed, rejected."

Bradshaw said as a family physician in Winnipeg, she is often the entry point to health care for LGBTTQ+ patients. She said she works hard to clearly convey support and validation — that’s her starting point, and building trust comes from there.

Physicians everywhere — herself included — need to do a better job of openly welcoming patients who have historically been marginalized, Bradshaw said.

It’s not hard to understand why some LGBTTQ+ patients might be hesitant about seeking care. Up until the 1970s and ‘80s, homosexuality was categorized in physician’s diagnostic manuals as a mental health issue. Up until just three years ago, being a trans person was referred to as a "gender identity disorder" and considered a mental health disease.

A 2015 University of Manitoba study that included interviews with 40 LGBTTQ+ women-identifying individuals in Winnipeg found nearly all experienced homophobia or transphobia when accessing health care.

Temporary road closures for Pride Winnipeg

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The following will be closed Sunday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.:

— Northbound and southbound Memorial Boulevard from Broadway to York Avenue;

— Northbound Memorial from York to Portage avenues;

— Eastbound and westbound Portage from Memorial to Main Street;

— Southbound Main from Portage to William Stephenson Way;

— Eastbound William Stephenson Way from Main to Israel Asper Way.

While newer physicians receive better training in medical school about providing care to LGBTTQ+ patients, Bradshaw said mid-career providers like herself, received none. As such, they "have some making up to do."

Doctors Manitoba provides physicians with resources on how to better educate themselves on issues pertaining to LGBTTQ+ access to health care, and physicians are encouraged to display signs showing their office is a safe space, along with what their own pronouns are.

Bradshaw added the organization’s presence at the Sunday parade that starts at the Manitoba legislature grounds is also meant to show solidarity with LGBTTQ+ colleagues across Manitoba.

There are 4,000 members of Doctors Manitoba, and with physicians spread out in communities across the province, it can be a challenge to form a sense of collegiality and ensure everyone feels supported, she said.

About 100 Doctors Manitoba members are expected to participate in Sunday’s parade.

katrina.clarke@freepress.mb.ca

Katrina Clarke

Katrina Clarke
Reporter

Katrina Clarke is an investigative reporter with the Winnipeg Free Press.