May 23, 2013 at 5:30 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Lesbian elected to AAPA board

The American Academy of Physicians Assistants, Diane Bruessow, Board of Directors, Gay News, Washington Blade

The American Academy of Physician Assistants this month elected Diane Bruessow to its Board of Directors. (Photo courtesy of Diane Bruessow)

The American Academy of Physician Assistants earlier this month elected a lesbian woman with two decades of experience in LGBT-related health care to its Board of Directors.

Diane Bruessow, who is at-large member of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Board of Directors, founded the Long Island Lesbian Cancer Initiative in 2000. She also works at Healthy Transitions, a New Jersey practice with more than 600 transgender clients that will soon open a second location in Queens, N.Y.

Bruessow, who is a past president of the AAPA’s LGBT PA Caucus, has been a physician assistant since 1993.

“In our AAPA environment, times are definitely moving in the right direction,” she told the Washington Blade when asked about the importance of her election. “To me the biggest thing about all of this is that it wasn’t a barrier and it shouldn’t be a barrier. When those moments happen they need to be celebrated.”

Bruessow added she feels her work on LGBT-specific health care will prove an asset to her fellow board members.

“This just adds another level of knowledge and informed decision making to the board,” she said. “When an issue comes up relating to the effect of health in our communities, than it helps to have someone in that room who is able to speak to it with some experience.”

Founded in 1968, the AAPA has grown to include more than 40,000 members from across the country.

The Alexandria, Va., based group in the 1980s endorsed “equal rights for all person” and “guaranteeing such rights.” The AAPA also added sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to its non-discrimination policy on how physician assistants deliver health care to their patients.

Bruessow also worked to secure passage of an AAPA resolution that opposes so-called “conversion” or “reparative” therapy designed to change a person’s sexual orientation.

“When this representative body of my colleagues stood up and said ‘yeah, you know this is not okay to do this to our patients,’ it was a really meaningful moment,” Bruessow said.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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