Looking for LGBTQ+ friendly healthcare? Dana Redick, MD, outlines the efforts she takes to create an inclusive environment for all.
LGBTQ+ Health: Issues & Resources
If your sexual orientation or gender identity veers from the standard norms, you face very specific health risks and barriers to healthcare. Understanding the LGBTQ+ (also sometimes called LGBTQIA+ — read about these terms) health issues you face can help you care for and advocate for yourself. Or for someone you love.
LGBTQ+ Healthcare Issues
Being gay, trans, gender nonconforming, or nonbinary doesn’t just affect who you date or marry. Your identity can affect every aspect of your life. Stigma, bias, discrimination — obvious or subtle — shadow your experiences at school, work, place of worship, in public spaces, in court, and at the doctor’s office.
Over 50% of all LGBTQ+ people have experienced discrimination while visiting a healthcare provider. As a result, many people in the LGBTQ+ community:
- Avoid seeking healthcare
- Stay closeted with providers
- Don’t advocate for themselves/feel vulnerable
- Distrust providers’ knowledge about LGBTQ+ healthcare issues
These behaviors of not being open with a doctor or nurse can lead to misdiagnoses and overlooked symptoms. Plus, LGBTQ+ people tend to miss out on preventative screenings that can catch and treat cancers or other chronic or life-threatening diseases.
And so, it’s no surprise that national studies show:
- LGBTQ+ youth attempt suicide 2 to 3 times more
- More LGBTQ+ youth face homelessness
- Lesbians get screened for cancer at a lower rate
- Gay men, especially those of color, have a higher risk of HIV and other STDs
- Lesbians and bisexual females have higher tendencies to be overweight or obese
- Transgender individuals have a high prevalence of HIV/STDs, victimization, mental health issues, and suicide, and they’re less likely to have health insurance
- Elderly LGBTQ+ individuals experience high levels of isolation and inclusive healthcare
- LGBTQ+ populations have the highest rates of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use
The Growing LGBTQ+ Population
According to a 2021 Gallup poll, 7% of people in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ+. That percentage soars to 20% for Gen Z (born between 1991-2003).
More than ever, we need to address and reduce the stigma that damages LGBTQ+ health. All of us can play a role in this critical effort.
Resources to Get You Started
Being an ally for the LGBTQ+ community means learning, listening, and supporting with action. Show up, speak up, and stand up when needed.
Go to the doctor with your LGBTQ+ loved one. Even the most confident person can feel powerless in a clinic.
Check out and share with others:
Know your terms:
- LGBTQIA+ Wiki
- LGBTQ+ and gender terms
- MX – the alternative to Ms/Mr
- Genderbread Person versions & more
- “What’s the Big Deal About Misgendering & Deadnaming?”
- Video about what pronouns are / why they matter
- National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11
- October: LGBTQ+ History Month
- Transgender Day of Remembrance, Nov. 20
- Pride Month/Stonewall anniversary, June 28
- International Pronouns Day, Oct. 20
Watch and read videos and articles on LGBTQ+ health:
- Debunking Transgender Myths videos
- LGBTQ+ Healthcare Training for Providers
- Mental Illness & LGBTQ+ Health
- Center for LGBTQ+ Health Research
- LGBTQ+ Aging
- Fenway Health (research & best practices)
- Voices of Transgender Adolescents in Healthcare
- Addressing Health Disparities in the LGBTQ+ Community
- Vanessa Goes to the Doctor
- We Are Here: A Transgender Training Video for Healthcare Professionals
- To Treat Me, You Have to Know Who I Am
- A Trans Man at the Doctor’s | Toby Walker
Know where to seek transgender healthcare: