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Friday, 31 May 2013

15th Annual Rainbow Women's Health Fair!


Rainbow Women’s Health Fair to be held June 29

Free massage? Free yoga? Free mammograms, pap tests, acupuncture, and more – all in an LBTQ-friendly setting? Sign me up!

Actually, for most of these services, no sign-up is necessary. Just come by All Pilgrims Church at Republican and Broadway between noon and 4pm on Saturday, June 29, the day of the Capitol Hill Pride Festival. That’s where the Rainbow Women’s Health Fair will be taking place. The goal of the health fair is to provide holistic and traditional health services and education from culturally competent providers to lesbian, bisexual, and queer women and genderqueer and transgender people, especially those with limited access to care. “It’s about empowering the community to take care of their health,” says Ingrid Berkhout, women’s health outreach coordinator at the YWCA. Since 2000, she has coordinated a team of volunteers to make the health fair happen each Pride.

Research shows that lesbian and bisexual women are less likely to get the preventive screenings they need, like mammograms and pap tests, and are more likely to experience some health issues, such as depression. Trans people of all genders face even more barriers to getting the health care they need. Yet there are very few health services in Seattle geared toward LBTQ women and trans people. The Rainbow Women’s Health Fair attempts to fill this gap, at least for one day each year.

Why attend the health fair? Ingrid offers a lot of reasons: “To experience alternative healthcare you might not know about. To get your vitals checked. To have fun, meet women, maybe find a provider, and get lots of information about LBT community organizations. To be proud of your health! Because if you’re not healthy, nothing really works.” All providers that participate in the fair volunteer their time and resources, and the planning committee focuses on recruiting LBTQ providers (or people with a long history of serving our community) to ensure that all services are culturally competent, as well as free, for all participants.

The Rainbow Women’s Health Fair was started in 1995 by the Seattle Lesbian Cancer Project. In later years, the fair was sponsored by Verbena Health, and after their premature demise, Ingrid and the fair moved over to the YWCA. Despite the many changes in our community, the fair is still going strong. This year’s fair will be the 15th (a few years have been skipped), and will include free yoga, massage, acupuncture, HIV tests, vitals checks, mammograms, pap smears, raffle prizes, and more, as well as interactive workshops throughout the day on topics like nutrition. Check out the YWCA’s LBTQ health blog at for updates.

If you’re interested in volunteering, contact Nina Cole at 206.461.4482 or To schedule a mammogram appointment or for general information, contact Ingrid at or 206.461.4493. See you there!

-Sara Jaye Sanford, MPH (Rainbow Women’s Health Fair Volunteer)  


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