There is no fairness when health care does not care for all people equally. Compared to other minority groups, LGBTQA patients are denied medical help most often because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
“When health care providers are allowed to deny LGBTQ folks care, it steals their ability to feel validated in their identity,” said sophomore and president of PRIDE Colin Nollet. “It is as if medicine tells people that they are not worthy of seeking help.”
We have to understand that diversity of minority groups within the LGBTQA community is large. However, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other queer people all face similar discrimination and stigma in society and in health care.
“There are people in this world who have full rights and citizenship — in our communities, our countries — around the world,” said Kerry Washington, an American actress and gay rights supporter, in GLAAD’s Vanguard Award speech. “And then there are those of us who, to varying degrees, do not. We don’t have equal access to education and healthcare, and some other basic liberties like marriage, a fair voting process and fair hiring practices.”
The LGBTQA community often faces health care disparities as an infringement of their human rights. Medical institutions provide limited training to future health care professionals in addressing the health care concerns of LGBTQA groups.
“Sexual health education is catered towards heterosexual health,” said junior Biology major and SAASA activist Alex Barbour. “The focus is on the teen pregnancy, which is not relevant for women who are having sex with each other, or men. So, there is a need for sexual education that talks about non-heterosexual sex.”
Doctors are not well acquainted with LGBTQA-specific health issues and challenges that they face in accessing health services.
“Transgendered folks are not afforded the same consideration in health care because their genitalia do not match their gender,” said sophomore psychology and health sciences major and Health & Wellness Peer Educator Molly Anne Marcotte. “Oftentimes trans-men who have not undergone reconfiguration surgery still have to go to gynecologist appointments and still have a risk of pregnancy, which can be faced with much stigma and judgement from health care providers.”
Such discriminatory behaviors have been also observed in emergency and urgent care providers.
“I know the scenes when the paramedics decide to not treat the patient when they find out that the person is a transgender individual,” said Barbour.
According to recent statistics, the number of uninsured LGBTQA Americans exceeds the number of uninsured straight and cisgendered people across the states. This represents an urgent need for reforms within health care.
“The main reason why insurance is an issue is because of (the) discrimination LGBTQ people face in (the) workforce and society,” said Kayo Robinson, a senior human development and premed major at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. “Many of them get laid off work, which causes them to not have money to afford insurance. This may be different now with introduction of Affordable Care Act, but personal biases of health care providers can still prevent adequate treatment they receive.”
Now that we have highlighted these issues, it is time to take action to create an inclusive and safe environment.
“A potential solution would be to have health care providers undergo gender/sexuality sensitivity and psychological training, so as to better serve marginalized populations at their practices,” said Marcotte.
We, including hospitals, educational institutions, workforce settings and human service providers, should put more effort into becoming allies to all minority groups. We must learn to see ourselves in others, and see others in ourselves, because recognizing someone means humanizing them.
“We are all one, and all the same,” said Lori Roberts, a CCE biology major. “It doesn’t matter who you are and where you are from. As a society, we need to accept that we are all equal. Only then we can change these disparities within health care.”