Bethany M. (bee)
Assistant Professor of Health and Queer Studies
Virginia Commonwealth University
Bethany M. (bee) Coston is a sociologically-trained activist scholar who has spent time in the Midwest and on the East Coast educating, protesting, and participating in research on sexualities and the making of sexual identities, violence, health and wellness, and community-based organizing. Dr. Coston spends most of their time with grassroots organizations/groups that work to end LGBTQ+ intimate partner violence and make the lives of victims and survivors physically and psychologically better in the process. They are a former pre-doctoral population health fellow with the National LGBT Health Education Center at Fenway Health. Their research has been published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence and the Journal of Social Issues and in edited volumes such as Race, Class, and Gender (edited by Margaret L. Anderson and Patricia Hill Collins), Queering the Deep South (edited by Kamden Strunk), and Paths to Gender Justice in Education: Theories & Practices (edited by Marc Pruyn, Curry Malott, and Pierre Wilbert Orelus), among others. Dr. Coston is also passionate about bringing these interests and issues into their teaching; no matter the topics taught, they aim to expand boundaries, question normality, and deconstruct reality.
Using data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS)—a nationally representative, probability dataset on intimate partner violence (IPV) in the U.S.—this project extends previous research on intimate partner violence and access to quality healthcare in two key ways: 1) It quantitatively assesses disparities in healthcare utilization post-IPV for sexual minority women, using a social ecological and minority stress conceptual model of health outcomes to discern specific barriers to and correlates of utilization (including, but not limited to age, race ethnicity, disability, and indigeneity); 2) It evaluates the role of community service providers in offering alternative options to the traditional medical model. Taken together, the findings highlight the complex and culturally specific medical, social, behavioral, and financial needs of sexual minority women survivors of violence and the promise of multi-modal healthcare integration. This is an understudied area of health research but a necessary one, as “the short and long-term effects of violence are healthcare issues that nearly every practicing physician encounters in the course of routine clinical practice.”
Why did you apply to New Connections
I am a non-binary, bisexual, queer, disabled activist-scholar survivor of complex trauma. In my life, I have had to “survive” a lot. As a researcher, I work with college students, community members, friends, and families to better understand what healing post-traumatically looks like for those who continue to experience structural inequality and violence. As a deeply-rooted member of the communities in which I do research, I want to ensure that we do more than just survive; it is paramount that LGBTQ+ people thrive.
I applied to be a New Connections scholar because I believe that this work is timely, vital, and often ignored or marginalized by health scholars and funding organizations. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, however, seeks to fund cutting-edge research that intentionally raises up the voices of individuals at the margins. As one of the leading health research organizations, RWJF understands that health equity is only achievable if we deliberately position diverse scholars at the core of research on health diversity. Indeed, it is often only those of us who occupy marginalized bodies and spaces who truly see, experience, and understand the need for culturally integrative health services.
In its commitment to health equity through meaningful engagement with under-represented scholars, RWJF also gives an early career scholar like myself—doing important, but often overlooked or undervalued, research—an opportunity to bolster their credentials, publish in highly regarded outlets, and network with researchers, scholars, consultants, program strategists, policy makers, and health services providers. This program is an invaluable first step in actualizing the suggestions that the Institutes of Medicine have been writing about for almost ten years, and bringing LGBTQ+ health into the spotlight.
Dr. Coston has extensive training in the fields of population health, sociology, and women’s and gender studies. Broadly, their research focuses on the health-related causes and outcomes of intimate partner violence (IPV) and the development of non-institutionalized public health for LGBTQ+ survivors. They employ both qualitative and quantitative methods to conduct queer translational health research. At the PhD level, they were trained in advanced quantitative methods, such as event history analysis, longitudinal data analysis, and fixed-effects modeling, and utilize Stata, GIS, and R to support research on the patterns and processes of intimate partner violence (IPV) and health outcomes. Dr. Coston spent three years as a population health research fellow specializing in LGBT issues at the Fenway Institute in Boston. Specifically, they worked on two projects during their tenure: an event history analysis of the timing of IPV and various health outcomes (i.e. depression, disability, STIs) relative to other life events and risk factors; and an in-depth examination of the role of inequality (based on age, class, race/ethnicity, gender, health and sexuality) on experiences of sexual minority IPV.
Their current work examines the importance of moving beyond “culturally competent” healthcare, which is still incredibly dangerous for “sexual and gender minorities” and those who identify as LGBTQ+. Recently Dr. Coston spent four months conducting community conversations with LGBTQ+ survivors of violence, discussing post-traumatic resources, mental health, and healing. This work analyzes macro- and micro-level strategies for increasing health care seeking and health outcomes among multiplicatively marginalized LGBTQ+ individuals. Importantly, their work centers the voices of those most routinely excludes from intervention programming. In this way, Dr. Coston’s research is aimed at effective health systems integration, patient-centered care and competent leadership, which can directly impact health services access and utilization and increase health justice.
Coston, B. M., C. Calin, & M. Jordan. (Forthcoming). Queering Pride to Center the Voices of People of Color In K. Strunk (Ed.), Queering the Deep South: Research on Queer Studies and LGBTQ Lives in the U.S. Southeast. New York: Information Age Publishing.
Coston, B. M. (2017). Power and Inequality: Intimate Partner Violence Against Bisexual and Non-Monosexual Women in the United States. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Advanced online publication. doi: 0886260517726415.
Coston, B. M. (2016). Breaking the Silence: Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Experiences of Intimate Partner Violence and Health-Related Effects. Retrieved from Equality Research Center (Eastern Michigan University): https://www.emich.edu/equality/research/bcoston.pdf
Coston, B.M. (2014). Women’s Health, Health Care Service Utilization, and Experience of Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. In V. Harvey & T. Housel (Eds.), Health Care Disparities and the LGBT Population (pp.167-188). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Coston, B. M., & Kimmel, M. (2013). White Men as the New Victims: Reverse Discrimination Cases and the Men’s Rights Movement. Nevada Law Journal, 13(2), 368-385.
Coston, B., & Kimmel, M. (2013). Aging Men, Masculinities, and Alzheimer’s: Caretaking and caregiving in the new millennium In Kampf, A., Marshall, B. L., & Petersen, A. (Eds.) Aging men, masculinities and modern medicine (pp.191-200).
Coston, B. M., & Kimmel, M. (2012). Seeing privilege where it isn’t: Marginalized masculinities and the intersectionality of privilege. Journal of Social Issues, 68(1), 97-111.
Coston, B.M. (2011). Issues in Intimate Violence: Heterosexism and Exclusion In M, Ball & B. Scherrer (Eds.), Queering Paradigms II (pp. 295-312). New York: Peter Lang Publisher
- New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
- Award Year: 2018
- RWJF Team/Portfolio: Strengthening Integration of Health Services and Systems
- Project Name: Improving Access to and Experiences with Health Care for Sexual Minority Women Survivors of Violence