The healthcare system does not always support those who are part of the LBGTQIA+ community. In fact, it can be downright harmful.
Research continues to show that LGBTQIA+ individuals are more likely to have various negative health outcomes, such as higher rates of substance use and smoking, homelessness, STIs, and suicide. But when we talk about these outcomes, we tend to focus on the individual’s behavior choices – completely ignoring that society and our medical system also play a significant role in their health.
What’s a disparity?
A disparity is a notable difference between two or more things. Health disparities refer to preventable differences in the health outcomes (disease, injury, violence) of marginalized or socially disadvantaged people. In 2016, the LGBTQIA+ community was identified as a health disparity population by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
Why do people experience them?
Disparities are a result of the lack of access to adequate healthcare. It’s an unfortunate truth that not everyone receives the same kind of healthcare treatment, services, or advice, resulting in poorer outcomes for certain individuals.
Who are these ‘certain individuals’? People with marginalized identities – like those from the LGBTQIA+ community.
If a person has multiple marginalized identities, it becomes even more challenging to find accessible healthcare. For example, a trans person of color will likely have a much harder time finding an affirming and adequate healthcare provider than a white-cisgender person due to discrimination and bias.
How does this affect LGBTQIA+ health?
The systemic discrimination and bias LGBTQIA+ people face in the healthcare system are intensified by social stigma and stereotypes, resulting in even poorer health outcomes. It’s common for marginalized individuals to avoid seeking medical attention due to these factors, putting them at risk of experiencing detrimental adverse health outcomes.
Not only are LGBTQIA+ members more at risk of being exposed to STIs and dating violence, but they are also more likely to use substances, experience mental health conditions, eating disorders, and obesity, and develop heart disease.
Health disparities are not due to the decisions people make around personal behaviors. They result from the discrimination and bias marginalized individuals face throughout the healthcare system. Take control of your health today by finding an affirming and adequate healthcare provider near you!