By Mansavi Meka
Published 4:16 EST, Fri December 31st, 2021
June was pride month: the month where we promoted self-affirmation, dignity, and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Pride rather than shame or stigma promotes and bolsters LGBTQ+ rights movements. However, even in the field of health care, this community faces significant disparities. This article is about debunking those disparities, for a chance to bring change.
LGBT individuals are from different religions, cultures, and social classes. Research suggests that LGBT individuals face health care disparities that are correlated to social stigma. Discrimination against LGBT people has been associated with an increased chance of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide. The Healthy people 2010 document highlights the need for more research to understand and address the needs of these hidden health disparities. A large study named the Pediatrics compares mental health of transgender and/or gender non-conforming individuals to their peers. The result is as expected: youth were several times more likely to have less attention and depressive disorders than non-transgender and/or gender-conforming individuals. In fact, statistics show that 28 percent of trans and gender non-conforming individuals have postponed medical care due to discrimination and disrespect. As a result of continuous discriminatory policies that often affect the minority, many LGBTQ individuals are left out of care. A 2017 national survey of LGBTQ+ people conducted by the Center for American Progress (CAP) found that nearly 1 in 10 LGBTQ individuals reported that a health care professional refused to see them because of their actual or assumed sexual orientation. Laura Durso, executive director of Washington DC’s nonprofit, Whitman Walker institute, which aims to advance social justice and equality in health care, reports that “Lack of access to health insurance and quality coverage, greater vulnerability to poverty, and unwelcoming and discriminatory social environments all play a role” (health.com). Having poor access to a vital need like health care can be horrifying, but the impact of poor access would hurt minorities, and make a severe impact on lifestyle and society.
Acknowledging the impact
In the domains of mental health, physical health, and access to care, these disparities are evident for this social group. Due to these inequalities, the LGBTQ population is prone to a higher risk of poor mental health, drug misuse, and addiction. And since LGBTQ lack access to quality care, research shows that they are more susceptible to various illnesses, diseases, and infections. It is also more likely that LGBTQ+ people report a lack of quality care and unfair treatment (cigna.org). Many social determinants that are continuously affecting the LGBTQ population include legal discrimination in health insurance, employment, housing, adoption, etc. Lack of social programs targeted at the LGBT community and a shortage of healthcare providers all play a role in the impact of the community. The impact of continuous discriminatory policies on a minority solely due to their sexual orientation is nefarious in itself.
There are multiple ways that society can take action to reduce existing health disparities in the LGBTQ community. Ranging from expanding access to health care to promoting organizations and social programs that specifically target this minority community. The Center for American Progress explains that giving adequate training to health care professionals would prioritize cultural competency. Not only should we train medics, but we also need to focus on bringing change in society. Educating our community of these disparities can go a long way to respect and treat the LGBTQ community equally. Additionally, many LGBTQ individuals lack access to health insurance, current efforts in Congress have the potential to bring change. Although this issue cannot be tackled overnight we must make efforts to change the status quo. Even though we come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, cultures, religions, and sexual orientations, we are all humans and we can bring change.
Manasavi Meka, Youth Medical Journal 2021
- Gillespie Claire. “6 Major Health Disparities Affecting the LGBTQ+ Community.” Health.com, 12 June 2020, www.health.com/mind-body/lgbtq-health-disparities.
- Becerra-Culqui, Tracy A., et al. “Mental Health of Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Youth Compared With Their Peers.” American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 May 2018, https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/141/5/e20173845.
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- “LGBTQ+ Health Disparities.” Cigna, https://www.cigna.com/individuals-families/health-wellness/lgbt-disparities