The Importance of Inclusive Healthcare for the LGBTQ+ Community
Healthcare is an integral part of life, yet LGBTQ+ individuals still encounter significant barriers to access — meaning they cannot get the care they need due to discrimination and stigma in the medical system. Inclusive healthcare is a key component of an equitable healthcare system and is essential to ensure that members of the LGBTQ+ community are able to seek and receive the care they need.
What is Inclusive Healthcare?
Inclusive healthcare is defined as a healthcare system that is mindful of the social and cultural differences in individuals, and that seeks to make all people’s health experiences positive and respectful. This encompasses all aspects from the moment an LGBTQ+ individual enters the health care system including staff attitudes, care and services offered as well as the physical environment.
Why is Inclusive Healthcare Necessary for the LGBTQ+ Community?
Inclusive healthcare is essential for the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ individuals. Unfortunately, many LGBTQ+ individuals experience negative care due to extensively documented discrimination. This can result in:
- Lack of recognition of gender and sexual identity – many healthcare providers are unaware of the complexities regarding the gender identities of LGBTQ+ patients. As a result, they often do not ask relevant and necessary questions in order to provide appropriate care.
- Lack of culturally competent providers – some healthcare providers are not familiar with the needs of LGBTQ+ patients and uncomfortable discussing topics related to gender identity and sexual orientation.
- Inadequate care for LGBTQ+-specific needs – LGBTQ+ individuals may require specialized health care and have unique needs that are not adequately addressed, such as HIV/AIDS screening, mental health services and access to hormone therapies.
- Insufficient support for trans patients – for trans individuals, healthcare can be a difficult experience. Many are met with transphobic bias from doctors and healthcare staff, leading to inadequate care and higher instances of trauma.
The lack of inclusive healthcare leaves LGBTQ+ individuals at higher risk of health disparities and can lead to poor health outcomes. LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions, mental health problems and HIV. Additionally, they are more likely to face poverty, stigma and discrimination, which all lead to worse overall health outcomes.
It is clear that inclusive healthcare is essential to ensure that members of the LGBTQ+ community can access the care they need. Healthcare providers must be mindful of the unique needs and experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals and strive to create a safe and respectful environment. Improving access to healthcare and ensuring equal treatment for all are necessary steps to promote the health and wellbeing of this community.