“The Care We Dream Of” leaves no one behind in their queer reimagining of healthcare

This collection of stories painstakingly addresses the disparities in public health marginalized groups face

Book cover: twilight background with giant pearly moon at top, surrounded by plants in shades of green, purple, and orange
Sharman’s compilation book strives to actualize LGBTQIA2S+ dreams of community-based care. Image courtesy of Arsenal Pulp Press

By: Yelin Gemma Lee, News Writer

In The Care We Dream Of, I found myself and the people I love represented through our distinct and specific ways of being. The book held me as I read through its comforting and challenging material, cradling me steadily. It critically calls out our health care system and validates LGBTQIA2S+ experiences from an anti-prison, anti-racist, decolonial, disability justice, and feminist perspective. 

Edited by Zena Sharman and set to release on October 5, 2021, the book is a hybrid of essays, poetry, stories, and interview transcripts. Containing works from over 10 LGBTQIA2S+ community members, including Sharman, its 272 pages are stretched into a vast array of subtopics under LGBTQIA2S+ health. These include exploring sexuality and pleasure, rest and healing through spiritual ceremony, aging and the prevalence of diet culture, and more. 

With the predominant theme being “liberatory and transformative approaches to LGBTQ+ health,” this book involves addressing many sensitive and triggering topics — like racism, colonialism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and trauma. Although each piece doesn’t feature its own trigger warnings, the introduction gives notice that this book covers difficult subjects. 

“The truth is, this whole book might feel triggering, which is a reflection of what we’re up against and why systemic transformation is both necessary and possible,” wrote Sharman. 

The introduction is crucial to read before diving into the core contents of the book. My feelings of fear and dread about a white editor being behind a book on LGBTQIA2S+ health — where key issues disproportionately affect BIPOC — were soothed here. Sharman acknowledges there’s “a subtle, insidious conditioning into whiteness I’ve been taught all my life [I’m] in an ongoing process of unlearning.

I carefully navigated this book cover to cover; because thinking of all the times my queer chosen family and I were disrespected or harmed by the healthcare system makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand. The book contains just enough challenging material needed to reach these ambitious goals. In other words, Sharman seems to have meticulously navigated the danger of over-sensationalizing violence as a means of provoking reactions. As a trans-nonbinary, queer, neurodiverse person of colour, I felt very seen, validated, and uplifted.

Not only does The Care We Dream Of stitch together our collective grief and hope, it also provides powerful and practical calls to action that health practitioners can immediately start applying to their work, like providing waiting room chairs that comfortably seat all body types. 

Half the profits from this book will be going to “groups and organizations focused on the healing and liberation of queer and trans people who are Black, Indigenous, and people of colour.” Sharman’s intentions for The Care We Dream Of shine through vividly, and the writers’ incredible contributions seamlessly form a powerful, unified vision for a healthcare system that leaves nobody behind.