At 5-foot-4 and 115 pounds Jessica Aguilar is classified as a “straw weight” in the mixed Martial Arts world.
And yet Aguilar is proving in many ways that ‘might’ can be indeed be light.
The champion fighter talked to women’s groups recently at the Pride Center in Wilton Manors to encourage them to take control of their healthcare through a new online directory. Aguilar, 31, sported her gold plated championship belt as she discussed the directory — LBTHealth.org.
“Everyone deserves to have quality health care,” Aguilar said. “We hope the directory opens doors for women in the LBT community who would otherwise not have sought out medical or mental health treatment in fear of shame or being misunderstood.”
More than 300 South Florida (Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties) doctors are listed in the directory, which was made possible by a grant from the Aqua Foundation for Women. Just getting women to the doctor is half the battle, said activists.
“So many times women do not consult a physician until it’s too late,” said Robin Schwartz, executive director for Aqua Foundation for Women. “They are embarrassed for whatever reason.”
LBTHealth.org is a free online searchable directory where lesbian, bisexual and transgender women can find healthcare without fear or social stigma by accessing these culturally competent providers, including gynecologists, primary care physicians and mental health professionals.
The initiative represents a true non-profit community collaboration, said Denise Spivak, president of Women in Network.
“This directory is a vital need within the LBT women’s community,” Spivak said.
Many of the women at Thursday’s event talked about the importance of being open and honest about their sexuality with their doctors. One of the first questions a woman is often asked by their doctor is if they are sexually active and what kind of birth control they are using.
“I’m a proud lesbian,” Aguilar said. “I’ve been out since I was 15 years old.”
Aguilar took the World Series of Fighting straw weight championship in a January bout at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. She trains out of Coconut Creek with American Top Team and is dating a tall brunette, Elena Rodriguez.
Aguilar was born in Houston, Texas where her family emigrated from Mexico. She lost her father when she was just six and later, at the age of 10, tragedy took her brother in a car accident. She draws on her tough childhood experiences to provide strength when fighting in the cage and acknowledges she is a marked woman.
“I’m the target,” she says with a smile. “Everybody wants me.”
Aguilar’s fighting style is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and she has a record of 16 wins and four losses with seven wins by submission and two technical knockouts.
“When I punch it’s for real,” she said.