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:
Eliminating LGBTQ health disparities and enhancing efforts to improve LGBTQ health are necessary to ensure that LGBTQ individuals can lead long, healthy lives.
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.
There are many more organizations working at a local level:
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.