Like any marginalized group of people, the LGBTQIA community has its fair share of struggles when it comes to matters like equal rights, access to health services, job opportunities, and having a voice in issues that impact them more than others. The acronym “LGBTQIA” stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual. And there’s often a “plus” symbol added to include other gender identities, such as nonbinary or gender nonconforming. Unfortunately, the reality is that society has a long way to go when it comes to creating inclusive laws, equal opportunities, and ensuring that the health care needs of people in the LGBTQIA community are met. For a closer look at health care and the issues currently facing LGBTQIA individuals, read on.
The LGBTQIA community has been coming out proud for years. And for the past few decades, the community has grown increasingly more vocal about facing discrimination and legal inequalities. While many people would like to think that recent legislation and new legal rights mean the same treatment for people both in and out of the LGBTQ community, the truth is that there’s still a long way to go when it comes to securing equal rights for this marginalized group.
Change can begin with knowing the facts. While it’s helpful to be a supportive ally, it’s even more important to understand the current issues this community faces. Too often, heterosexual cisgender people make the mistake of assuming that because they, personally, don’t have any issue with other people’s LGBTQIA identities that society and its systems don’t either. Sadly, this isn’t the truth. The reality is that people in this community have trouble accessing some of the most basic levels of health services.
For example, an LGBTQIA person could be struggling with their identity and seek the help of a licensed professional about coming out. A licensed therapist will likely have the training to help, but a general practitioner may not understand the daily stigma that queer people of color or asexual people feel in the workplace. While general practitioners might sign off on surgeries or hormone treatments or arrange for a family therapy session, their personal biases could inevitably impact treatment. While access to care could appear the same, in this case, equal access to helpful care is compromised until all qualified professionals are on board.
Because the general public has a long way to go when it comes to understanding inclusivity, gender norms, perceptions, and LGBTQIA people’s needs, more and more students are seeking degrees like a
bachelor of public health to help spread awareness and advocate for change. By informing the public and talking about inequality when it comes to health services, communities can work toward better legislation and even more inclusive reform.
Health issues for the LGBTQ community extend well past coming out. For many, the ability to afford hormones or seek mental health treatment to deal with depression, or bullying isn’t accessible. This group is at higher risk of self-harm due to inequity within the care system, especially when it comes to the needs of the LGBTQ population. Thankfully, there are now resources like With Therapy that make services more accessible.
Being an ally can be key to helping individuals navigate the difficult circumstances they face every day. On top of supporting the LGBT community to advocate for equal rights, another great way to get involved is to do your own learning and listen to the community’s needs. Being welcoming to new ideas, showing interest in public health, and getting involved are all great ways to stand up for change and help improve the accessibility of health services for all.