The Importance of Health Care for the LGBTQ Community
All individuals deserve equal access to healthcare. It is especially important for members of the LGBTQ community to receive care from providers who are gender-affirming and culturally competent. Research suggests that LGBTQ individuals face health disparities linked to social stigma, discrimination, and denial of their civil and human rights. LGBTQ individuals require specific attention from healthcare providers to address a number of disparities:
- LGBTQ youth are 2-3 times more likely to attempt suicide
- LGBTQ youth are more likely to be homeless
- Lesbians are less likely to get preventative services for cancer
- Lesbians and bisexual females are more likely to be overweight or obese
- Transgender individuals have a high prevalence of HIV/STIs, victimization, mental health issues, and suicide and are less likely to have health insurance
- LGBTQ populations have the highest rates of tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use
Eliminating LGBTQ health disparities and enhancing efforts to improve LGBTQ health are necessary to ensure that LGBTQ individuals can lead long, healthy lives.
Importance of LGBTQ Gynecological Care
If you have a vagina, cervix, or breast tissue, it is important to make regular visits to a gynecologist-regardless of your gender or sexuality. Your gynecologist can provide cancer screening, sexual health check-ups, and safer sex advice. Unfortunately, finding adequate medical care is a huge issue for those in the LBGTQ community.
If you currently have a gynecologist with whom you feel comfortable, coming out to them is an important step to being healthy. Being open about your sexual orientation, sexual behavior, and gender identity means that your provider will be able to offer care that is personalized and relevant to you. Bring a friend for support if you want to. Tell your healthcare provider your pronouns and the names you prefer that they use for your body parts. They should respect this and start to use your preferred terms.
If your gynecologist is not understanding or you don’t feel comfortable with them, find a new one. There are several ways to find a provider with whom you connect. To start, ask people you trust for recommendations. Friends, local support organizations, and online forums are all good sources for this information. You might want to ask another healthcare provider with whom you had a good experience.
Health Care Resources for the LGBTQ Community
- The World Professional Association for Transgender Health offers a list of recommended healthcare providers worldwide.
- The GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality have a Provider Directory for primary care providers, specialists, therapists, dentists, and other health professionals in your area.
There are many more organizations working at a local level:
- The LGBTQ Center Orlando has a Community Resource Guide to connect LGBTQ individuals with local community resources for the betterment of their lives.
- 26Health offers quality care and services for all Central Floridians regardless of their ability to pay. 26Health is a comprehensive wellness community that includes affordable healthcare, mental healthcare, a drug discount program, adoptions services, aesthetic services, and more.
Remember, your health is important. When you visit your healthcare provider, you deserve to be addressed with the correct name and gender, and treated with respect and dignity – both by your physician and by the other staff.