Healthcare Tips for LGBTQ+ Individuals

LGBTQ+ healthcare

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Finding healthcare providers who understand your needs as an LGBTQ+ individual can be challenging. However, more healthcare facilities now provide inclusive care for the LGBTQ+ community.

Sam, a young transgender person, shared their journey of finding the right providers. “I was anxious about finding doctors who would treat me with respect during my transition. However, I found an LGBTQ+-friendly clinic that made me feel supported.”

Sam’s story highlights the importance of advocating for your healthcare needs. Seek out providers committed to delivering inclusive care.

Key Takeaways

  • Seek out LGBTQ+-friendly healthcare providers knowledgeable about your unique needs1.
  • Look for facilities displaying LGBTQ+ affirming visuals and inclusive language2.
  • Ask for your preferred pronouns and name to be used2.
  • Prioritize your mental health and seek LGBTQ+-affirming therapy1.
  • Advocate for LGBTQ+ health equity by supporting inclusive initiatives2.

Understanding LGBTQ+ Terminology

It’s crucial to grasp LGBTQ+ terminology. Sexual orientation and gender identity are distinct.

Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation refers to romantic preferences. It includes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer.

Gender Identity

Gender identity means expressing gender identity. It covers man, woman, and non-binary.

Pronouns and Preferred Names

Using proper pronouns shows respect. Ask for preferred name and pronouns.

“Understanding LGBTQ+ terminology is key to providing compassionate and inclusive healthcare. When we take the time to learn and use the right language, we show our patients that we see and respect them for who they are.”

Term Definition
Agender A gender identity that is neutral or without gender3
Asexual Describes a person who experiences little to no sexual attraction3
Aromantic Describes a person who experiences little to no romantic attraction3
Transgender Describes a person whose gender identity or expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth4
Non-binary Describes a person who does not identify exclusively as male or female4
Intersex Describes a person born with sexual or reproductive anatomy that doesn’t fit the typical definitions of female or male5

Familiarize yourself with LGBTQ+ terminology. Create a welcoming and inclusive healthcare space.

Understanding diverse identities is ongoing. Your efforts provide affirming, compassionate care.

Barriers to Healthcare for LGBTQ+ Community

As an LGBTQ+ individual, you may encounter various obstacles when seeking healthcare. These challenges can often discourage you from receiving necessary care. Understanding the unique barriers is crucial for creating an inclusive healthcare system.

One significant barrier is the lack of access to basic medical services. This can result from factors like lack of health insurance6, fear of discrimination6, shortage of LGBTQ+-friendly providers6, or delaying care due to cost6 or other reasons6.

Another barrier is a history of stigmatization from healthcare workers. LGBTQ+ patients who faced negative interactions may hesitate to seek future care, fearing reliving those experiences.6 This can especially impact transgender and non-binary individuals with trauma.

Lack of Provider Knowledge about LGBTQ+ Health

Many healthcare providers lack training in caring for LGBTQ+ patients effectively. Few doctors are aware of lesbian patients or ask about sexual identity.7 This lack of cultural competency leads to perceived inequitable access and higher unmet health needs7.

Barrier Impact
Limited Access to Healthcare
  • Lack of health insurance coverage6
  • Fear of discrimination or harm6
  • Shortage of LGBTQ+-friendly providers6
  • Delays due to cost or non-cost reasons6
Negative Experiences with Providers
  • Reluctance due to past trauma6
  • Challenging for transgender and non-binary individuals
Lack of Provider Knowledge
  • Doctors unaware of LGBTQ+ patients7
  • Insufficient LGBTQ+ health training7
  • Perceived inequitable healthcare access7
  • Higher unmet health needs7

The LGBTQ+ community faces multifaceted barriers in accessing healthcare, rooted in historical lack of inclusivity. Addressing these challenges paves the way for an equitable, affirming healthcare environment.

“Discrimination and reluctance to disclose sexual orientation can delay seeking healthcare among LGB individuals.”7

Common Health Concerns

The LGBTQ+ community faces unique health challenges. They experience higher rates of substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and mental health issues.

Healthcare providers must understand these disparities. Early screening and providing appropriate resources are crucial.

LGBTQ+ individuals experience higher rates of substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and mental health issues compared to their non-LGBTQIA+ counterparts8.

Higher Risk of Substance Abuse

Studies show LGBTQ+ individuals have a higher propensity for substance abuse. They are more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs.

Healthcare providers should screen for and address substance abuse concerns. Offering appropriate resources and referrals is essential.

Higher Risk of STDs

LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly adolescents, face a greater risk of bacterial STIs. Their risk is higher than their heterosexual peers.

Proactive screening and education on safer sexual practices are crucial. This can mitigate disparities in sexual health outcomes.

Higher Risk of Mental Health Issues

Rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide are disproportionately higher among LGBTQ+ individuals. This is especially true for LGBTQ+ youth.

Factors like discrimination, social stigma, and lack of family support contribute. Mental health screening and LGBTQ+-affirming therapy are essential.

Healthcare providers must prioritize these concerns. Providing tailored support and resources improves overall wellness within this community.

Creating an Inclusive Healthcare Environment

Educating healthcare providers on LGBTQ+ terminology is crucial. Providing relevant health services requires understanding. Compassionate care mistakes can negatively impact patients.

Having appropriate form fields for pronouns, sex, gender, and relationships creates inclusion. Updates enhance communication and patient comfort.

Displaying LGBTQ+ Affirming Visuals

Displaying visual cues in healthcare offices helps create inclusivity. Safe environment visuals show affirmation.

Training Staff on LGBTQ+ Competency

Staff training on LGBTQ+ competency is essential. The National LGBT Health Education Center offers publications. Understanding and inclusive healthcare are key.

inclusive healthcare environment

Communication Best Practices

Providing compassionate care to LGBTQ+ patients involves following key practices. Healthcare providers shouldn’t make assumptions about a patient’s gender identity or sexual orientation based on appearance9. If information provided differs from charted details, never ask for their “real” name9. Use the name they provide.

Respect patients by using their stated name, gender, and orientation details. Sharing your own pronouns helps create a welcoming environment from the start9.

Avoid Assumptions and Unnecessary Questions

Don’t assume a patient’s gender identity or sexual orientation based on how they look9. If details provided conflict with charted information, never request their “real” name9. Simply use the name they give.

Use Gender-Neutral Language

Evaluate language to ensure inclusivity for sexual and gender minority populations. Avoid exclusionary phrasing and offensive, outdated terms9. Use updated, respectful terminology when addressing these communities9.

Ask for Pronouns and Preferred Names

Use the name, gender, sex, and orientation details patients provide9. Offer your own pronouns to create a welcoming environment early on9. Misgendering can harm individuals and is a form of harassment, given gender identity’s multidimensional nature9.

Respecting Privacy and Confidentiality

Safeguarding privacy and confidentiality for LGBTQ+ patients is crucial. The LGBTQ+ community often relies on “families of choice.” Understand patients’ preferred contacts and support systems.

When interacting with LGBTQ+ individuals, ask who should be contacted in emergencies. Also, ask if anyone should not be contacted.

Healthcare providers must create an environment where LGBTQ+ patients feel comfortable sharing sensitive information. Many may be reluctant due to past negative experiences.

By establishing a welcoming and inclusive practice, you foster trust and open communication. This ultimately leads to better patient care.

  • Advertise your LGBTQ+-friendly practice to show respect and support.
  • Use inclusive language and terminology validating patients’ identities.
  • Provide comprehensive staff training on LGBTQ+-specific healthcare needs.

Respecting privacy and confidentiality builds trust with LGBTQ+ patients. Create an inclusive environment tailored to their unique needs.

This ensures LGBTQ+ patients feel safe, respected, and empowered. They can then share sensitive information crucial for health and well-being.

LGBTQ+ privacy

“Fostering trust and respect provides quality, inclusive healthcare for LGBTQ+ individuals.” – Kevin Moore, Assistant Director for LGBTQ+ Clinical Services, NYU Langone Health10

LGBTQ+ healthcare

As a healthcare provider, you must understand LGBTQ+ individuals’ unique needs. You should deliver affirming, competent care to them.

LGBTQ+ individuals face higher risks of substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and cancers. They also face cardiovascular issues, bullying, and mental health challenges. By understanding these concerns, you can screen and provide relevant support.

Understanding Unique Healthcare Needs

LGBTQ+ individuals often experience specific physical and mental health disparities. These require specialized attention from healthcare providers.

LGBTQ+ youth are at higher risk for suicide. This highlights the need for targeted prevention programs and support services.

Intersex individuals have the right to reject unnecessary medical interventions. Their autonomy must be protected by healthcare providers.

Providing Affirming and Competent Care

In New York City, LGBTQ+ individuals can access LGBTQ-knowledgeable providers through NYC Health Map. This covers primary care, sexual health, gender-affirming care, and HIV testing/treatment.

The city enforces an LGBTQ Health Care Bill of Rights. It ensures LGBTQ+ patients receive dignified, affirming, comprehensive care with privacy.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression is illegal in NYC healthcare settings. Individuals can file complaints if mistreated.

LGBTQ+ individuals should openly discuss their sexual histories with providers. This helps mitigate health risks.

The “Pride and Care” booklet provides valuable resources for TGNCNB communities in New York.

11 The LGBTQ+ Healthcare Directory is a free database of LGBTQ+ focused doctors and providers. Profiles include details to help LGBTQ+ patients find inclusive care.

Building Trust with LGBTQ+ Patients

Building trust with LGBTQ+ patients is vital. Healthcare providers must show cultural humility. They should acknowledge past trauma many LGBTQ+ people faced.

Offering inclusive resources and referrals shows the provider cares. They have learned about LGBTQ+ patient needs. Maintaining a non-judgmental attitude also helps.

Following the patient’s lead on identity and expression fosters trust.

Displaying Cultural Humility

Cultural humility involves acknowledging one’s limited knowledge. Providers should be open to learn from patients. This approach recognizes the power imbalance.

It is especially important for marginalized groups like LGBTQ+. By showing respect and willingness to learn, providers create a welcoming environment.

Acknowledging Past Trauma

Many LGBTQ+ people faced discrimination and trauma in healthcare. Providers should be sensitive to this history. Acknowledging and validating patient experiences builds trust.

Understanding unique LGBTQ+ challenges demonstrates commitment to affirming, culturally competent care.

Offering Inclusive Resources

Providing LGBTQ+-specific resources shows the provider supports the community. This includes LGBTQ+ affirmative imagery, LGBTQ+-friendly specialist lists, and educational brochures.

Brochures on gender-affirming care or LGBTQ+ mental health are helpful. These steps create a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ patients.

“Building trust with the LGBTQ+ community is essential for equitable and compassionate healthcare. By embracing cultural humility, acknowledging past trauma, and offering inclusive resources, providers can take meaningful steps towards creating a more welcoming and affirming healthcare experience.”


Addressing Mental Health Concerns

As a healthcare provider, you must address the mental health needs of your LGBTQ+ patients. LGBTQ+ individuals face higher risks of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts13.

Screening for Depression and Anxiety

Regularly screen your LGBTQ+ patients for depression and anxiety. This can identify those struggling with mental health issues. LGBTQ+ teens are six times more likely to experience depression symptoms than non-LGBTQ+ peers13. By being proactive, you can provide necessary support and resources.

Providing LGBTQ+-Affirming Therapy

Offer LGBTQ+-affirming therapy for mental health treatment. This approach acknowledges the LGBTQ+ community’s unique challenges and experiences. Providing LGBTQ+-affirming therapy builds trust and stronger therapeutic relationships, leading to better patient outcomes.

“48 percent of transgender adults report having considered suicide in the last year, compared to 4 percent of the overall US population.”

Prioritize the mental health of your LGBTQ+ patients. Provide comprehensive, affirming care to make a significant difference in their lives. Addressing mental health concerns is crucial for delivering high-quality, inclusive healthcare.

LGBTQ+ mental health

Advocating for LGBTQ+ Health Equity

As healthcare providers, we play a crucial role in advocating for LGBTQ+ health equity. By supporting relevant initiatives and promoting inclusive policies, we can create a more equitable healthcare system.

LGBTQ+ health equity ensures high-quality, affirming care for this community.

Supporting LGBTQ+ Healthcare Initiatives

Advocating for LGBTQ+ health equity involves supporting initiatives addressing this community’s unique needs. This includes lobbying for increased funding for gender-affirming services, mental health support, and sexual health programs14.

By championing these initiatives, we help ensure LGBTQ+ individuals access comprehensive, culturally competent care.

Promoting Inclusive Policies and Practices

Healthcare providers can promote LGBTQ+ health equity by implementing non-discrimination policies and comprehensive training programs. These measures create an inclusive environment where LGBTQ+ patients feel safe, respected, and empowered.

Actively promoting inclusive policies and practices addresses barriers LGBTQ+ individuals face when accessing healthcare, such as limited access, negative experiences, and lack of provider knowledge.

Healthcare Challenges for LGBTQ+ Individuals Percentage
LGBTQ respondents reporting healthcare providers refusing them a visit due to their sexual orientation 8%14
LGBTQ respondents reporting healthcare providers using abusive language while providing treatment 9%14
Transgender respondents reporting healthcare providers refusing them a visit due to their gender identity 29%14
Transgender respondents reporting healthcare providers using abusive language during treatment 21%14
Transgender individuals reporting healthcare providers denying them gender transition care 12%14

Advocating for LGBTQ+ health equity creates an inclusive, responsive healthcare system for this community14.

“Public health professionals advocate for policies ensuring cultural competency training in healthcare for LGBTQ individuals.”14

As healthcare providers, we must champion LGBTQ+ health equity and work towards a more equitable healthcare system. Supporting LGBTQ+ healthcare initiatives and promoting inclusive policies addresses disparities and challenges, ensuring high-quality, affirming care14.

Building an LGBTQ+-Friendly Practice

Creating a welcoming LGBTQ+ healthcare practice starts with staff training. Ensure all team members understand LGBTQ+ terminology, healthcare needs, and communication practices. This cultivates an affirming environment.

Staff training is just the start. Reach out to local LGBTQ+ community groups. Build partnerships with LGBTQ+ organizations. Collaborate to understand challenges LGBTQ+ individuals face. Tailor services to their needs.

Staff Training and Continuing Education

Provide comprehensive LGBTQ+ competency training. Cover terminology, communication techniques, and healthcare needs. Encourage ongoing education for best practices.

Community Outreach and Partnerships

Engage with LGBTQ+ organizations, centers, and groups. Attend events and sponsor programs. Collaborate on initiatives addressing LGBTQ+ healthcare concerns. Build relationships for valuable insights.

Creating an LGBTQ+-friendly practice requires commitment. Continuous learning, adaptation, and community engagement prioritize inclusivity. Your practice becomes a trusted LGBTQ+ resource.

“Inclusive healthcare is not just a box to be checked, but a continuous journey of learning, growth, and allyship. By prioritizing LGBTQ+ competency and community engagement, healthcare practices can create truly welcoming and affirming environments for all patients.”

– Dr. Jamie Rainer, LGBTQ+ Health Advocate

Intersectionality and LGBTQ+ Health

Providing care to LGBTQ+ patients requires considering intersectionality. Intersectionality examines how identities like race, gender, sexuality, and class intersect. These intersections affect individuals’ experiences and healthcare needs.

Healthcare providers must address racial disparities in LGBTQ+ health. They must provide targeted support and resources for transgender and non-binary individuals. These individuals face unique challenges accessing affirming care.

Addressing Racial Disparities

91% of adolescent males from Black communities consider racial and gender aspects. LGBT individuals of color experience microaggressions 22% of the time. Understanding these intersections helps address unique needs and barriers.

Supporting Transgender and Non-Binary Individuals

Transgender and non-binary patients often struggle accessing gender-affirming care. 80% of LGBTQ+ Latino patients face difficulties in shared decision-making. Providers must offer inclusive, respectful, competent care for these individuals.

“Intersectionality is crucial in addressing LGBTQ+ health disparities. By recognizing the unique experiences of individuals at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities, we can work towards more equitable and inclusive healthcare for all.”

Creating an inclusive, affirming healthcare environment requires acknowledging intersectionality. Providers must support LGBTQ+ individuals of all backgrounds through targeted interventions, cultural humility, and community partnerships.

Resources for LGBTQ+ Healthcare

Healthcare providers aim to deliver inclusive care for LGBTQ+ patients. National and local organizations provide comprehensive guides and training programs. Healthcare staff can build knowledge and skills for serving the LGBTQ+ community sensitively.

National and Local LGBTQ+ Health Organizations

The National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center is an invaluable resource. It offers over 80 on-demand webinars eligible for HEI credit. Most webinars are also available for CME/CEU credit15.

Fenway Health, the Center’s parent organization, is certified by various healthcare bodies. These include the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Academy of Physician Assistants, and American Nurses Credentialing Center15. Health professionals can transfer this credit into continuing education units15.

Online Resources and Educational Materials

Numerous online resources support LGBTQ+ healthcare. Websites like and Women’ offer comprehensive guides and directories. These cover gender-affirming care, sexual health, and delivering inclusive care.

“Educating healthcare providers on LGBTQ+ health issues ensures compassionate, quality care for all.”

LGBTQ+ healthcare resources

Leveraging LGBTQ+ healthcare resources empowers practices to provide exceptional, inclusive care. Investing in knowledge and skills improves clinical outcomes and fosters a welcoming, affirming environment for LGBTQ+ individuals15.


Providing affirming LGBTQ+ healthcare requires deep knowledge of terminology. It also needs awareness of barriers, health concerns this community faces. Adopting intentional communication practices creates an inclusive environment16.

By educating themselves, displaying cultural humility, healthcare providers advocate for LGBTQ+ equity. This ensures the community feels respected, empowered to access inclusive care16.

Ultimately, delivering quality, LGBTQ+-competent care benefits the healthcare system, communities served. With increased understanding, compassion, creating inclusive spaces addresses disparities faced16.

As a provider, foster trust, safety, empowerment for all individuals. Embrace this holistic approach to make a meaningful difference in LGBTQ+ patients’ lives16.


What is the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity?

Sexual orientation refers to romantic or sexual preferences. It includes labels like gay, straight, queer, lesbian, and bisexual. Gender identity refers to how a person expresses their gender. This includes identities like man, woman, and nonbinary.

Why are pronouns important for healthcare providers to know?

Pronouns are crucial. Starting with “they” can help if the pronoun preference is unclear. Asking patients how they’d like to be addressed shows respect. It signifies the provider is aware not all identify with she/he pronouns.

What are some common barriers to healthcare that LGBTQ+ individuals face?

Barriers include lack of access to basic healthcare due to lack of insurance, fear of harm if identified as LGBTQ+, and lack of nearby providers offering needed services. A history of stigmatization and discrimination from healthcare workers also presents a barrier.

What are some specific health concerns for LGBTQ+ individuals?

LGBTQ+ individuals face higher risks of substance abuse, STDs, cancers, cardiovascular diseases, bullying, and mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and suicide, especially for youth.

How can healthcare providers create an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ patients?

Ensuring forms have fields for pronouns, sex, gender, and relationships creates an inclusive environment. Displaying LGBTQ+ affirming visuals and providing staff training on LGBTQ+ competency also helps.

What are some best practices for communicating with LGBTQ+ patients?

Avoid assumptions about sex, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation based on outward expression. Follow the patient’s lead and use their information for name, sex, gender, and orientation. Sharing your own pronouns also helps provide a welcoming environment.

Why is respecting the privacy and confidentiality of LGBTQ+ patients essential?

Be mindful of preferred contacts and support systems, as the LGBTQ+ community often relies more on “families of choice” than biological family. Ask who should be contacted in emergencies and who should not.

How can healthcare providers deliver affirming and competent care to LGBTQ+ patients?

Understand the unique healthcare needs of LGBTQ+ individuals. Be aware of specific physical health problems they face, like higher risks of substance abuse, STDs, cancers, bullying, and mental health issues. Screen appropriately and offer relevant resources and support.

How can healthcare providers help build trust with LGBTQ+ patients?

Display cultural humility, acknowledging past trauma within healthcare. Offer inclusive resources and referrals. Maintain a non-judgmental attitude and follow the patient’s lead regarding identity and expression.

How can healthcare providers advocate for LGBTQ+ health equity?

Support LGBTQ+ healthcare initiatives and promote inclusive policies and practices. Lobby for increased funding and resources for LGBTQ+-specific care. Implement non-discrimination policies and comprehensive staff training programs.

What are some ways healthcare practices can build an LGBTQ+-friendly environment?

Offer staff training and continuing education on LGBTQ+ competency. Conduct community outreach and partnerships. Ensure all staff, from receptionists to medical professionals, are knowledgeable about LGBTQ+ terminology, healthcare needs, and best practices for communication and care.

How can healthcare providers consider intersectionality when providing care to LGBTQ+ patients?

Consider how different facets of identity, including race, gender expression/identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, and other characteristics, intersect and affect experiences and healthcare needs. Address racial disparities in LGBTQ+ health outcomes. Provide targeted support and resources for transgender and non-binary individuals.

What resources are available to support healthcare providers in delivering competent, inclusive care to LGBTQ+ patients?

There are national and local organizations, online resources, and educational materials available. The CDC, GLBT Health Access Project,, and Women’ offer comprehensive guides, directories, and training programs to help build knowledge and skills for serving the LGBTQ+ community.

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