Breaking Barriers to LGBTQ+ Health: A Guide for Patients
Many LGBTQ+ patients have faced discrimination and mistreatment from healthcare providers due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Preventative care is key to maintaining your health, but over 35% of the LGBTQ+ population has delayed seeking healthcare due to negative experiences. You deserve to feel safe, heard, and validated by those who are meant to care for you.
Discrimination, lack of cultural competency, and inadequate access to gender-affirming care are common challenges faced by LGBTQ+ patients when navigating the healthcare system. Look for providers who are knowledgeable about LGBTQ+ health so that you can approach your care from a place of mutual understanding. It is important that you are able to connect with your doctors and therapists in ways that are comfortable and affirming for you. This connection can make all the difference in feeling comfortable enough to ask the important questions and get the answers you need. You shouldn’t have to correct a doctor on your pronouns repeatedly or field uncomfortable questions about your gender expression in order to get the care you deserve.
Here are some questions to ask providers as you navigate your healthcare journey and find care that works for you:
- Have you had any training in providing care to LGBTQ+ patients?
- Are you familiar with the health disparities that affect LGBTQ+ individuals?
- Are you comfortable discussing sexual orientation and gender identity with your patients?
- What kind of gender-affirming care do you offer (if applicable)?
- Are you knowledgeable about hormone replacement therapy for transgender individuals (if applicable)?
- Are you familiar with the health risks associated with sexual behavior in LGBTQ+ communities?
- Do you offer HIV testing and treatment, and are you familiar with PrEP and PEP?
- Are you aware of the mental health concerns that affect LGBTQ+ individuals, and do you offer counseling or referrals to mental health professionals?
- Do you use inclusive language when speaking with patients, such as asking about a patient's partner instead of assuming their sexual orientation?
- Are you willing to work with patients to create a personalized health plan that takes into account their unique needs and concerns as an LGBTQ+ individual?
By asking these questions, LGBTQ+ patients can ensure that their healthcare providers are knowledgeable about their specific health needs and concerns, and are able to provide the best possible care. Discrimination, lack of cultural competency, and inadequate access to gender-affirming care are common challenges faced by LGBTQ+ patients when navigating the healthcare system.It's important for patients to feel comfortable with their healthcare providers and to have open and honest communication about their health.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to make your way through these complicated systems on your own. There are resources available to you that can make healthcare more approachable and less overwhelming.