Members of the LGBTQ community face consistent and pervasive discrimination in healthcare settings.
From ill-informed doctors to outright denial of essential services, LGBTQ people are often confronted with overwhelming barriers to basic medical care. Below, we’ve collected just a few of the statistics that illustrate the hurdles keeping members of the LGBTQ community from adequate treatment.
1. More than 50 percent of LGBT people experience some form of healthcare discrimination.
56 percent of LGBTQ individuals have confronted discrimination while seeking medical treatment — whether it be the absence of proper gender designation on medical intake forms or blatant refusal to provide specific and necessary services. In fact, one in four queer people have reported encountering some form of medical discrimination in the last year alone. This is especially problematic because finding an LGBT friendly doctor can be particularly challenging, particularly outside major cities.
2. One in five trans people has been denied health coverage simply because of their trans status.
A recent survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that 19 percent of trans and GNC people have been refused care outright because they were transgender or gender non-conforming. What’s more, doctors routinely use abusive language and overtly transphobic terminology, ignore the specific medical needs of trans and GNC individuals, and often use shame and normative gender/sexual assumptions to alienate these patients during visits.
3. Beyond overt discrimination, more than half of trans individuals report encountering a significant lack of provider knowledge.
The same survey found that more than 50 percent of respondents reported having to explain certain aspects of transgender-specific medical necessities to their healthcare providers. This knowledge gap keeps many trans people from accessing trans-specific medical procedures like hormone therapy or gender affirmation surgery. Proper LGBT healthcare goes beyond simply having access to the necessary procedures; it also includes having informed doctors who can help you make appropriate transition plans so you can embrace yourself.
4. 28 percent of trans and GNC people have postponed medical care when sick or injured due to discrimination and disrespect.
As a result of consistent discriminatory practices and a dearth of provider knowledge related to trans care, many trans folks simply avoid seeking treatment for obvious and urgent health problems. The immediate effect is that many trans and GNC individuals are not getting care they need when they need it — a pattern that can contribute to chronic health issues in LGBT people down the line.
5. LGBTQ people of color are more than twice as likely to avoid a doctor’s office than white LGBTQ individuals.
Different forms of discrimination can often compound each other to exacerbate negative results. According to a recent survey from the Center for American Progress, LGBTQ people of color are more than twice as likely to avoid the doctor’s office than white LGBTQ individuals — findings that are consistent with research that has identified patterns of healthcare discrimination against people of color and disabled people.
6. 75 percent of lesbians report delaying or avoiding healthcare.
Research shows that lesbians have vastly lower rates of consulting family doctors and are less likely to have had a Pap test compared to heterosexual women. The top three reasons for their avoidance of care? Prohibitive costs, fear of discrimination, and previous experiences of discrimination.
7. When someone has one experience of healthcare discrimination, they are three times more likely to postpone care in that year.
The problem of discrimination is self-perpetuating to the extent that one instance of discrimination in a healthcare setting makes a patient three times more likely to postpone care in that same year. This can falsely represent a lower demand for LGBT healthcare, which ultimately leads to less experience for many doctors. To reduce the risk of healthcare discrimination, find an LGBT friendly or LGBT identifying doctor with our health provider search tool.
8. Only 16 percent of LGBT patients choose to inform their doctor of their sexual orientation.
Because LGBTQ patients have been conditioned to expect discrimination, the degree to which they elect not to inform their doctors about their sexual orientation is staggering. But the truth is, doctors just aren’t asking. A new study of both patients and providers in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that nearly 80 percent of providers surveyed believed that patients would refuse to disclose their sexual orientation, when in fact only 10 percent of patients from a randomized, national sample of lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual subjects said they would refuse.
9. In 2015, 80 percent of first year medical students expressed implicit bias against gay and lesbian people and 50 percent expressed explicit bias.
Wondering why LGBTQ people choose not to volunteer information about their sexual orientation or gender identity? A 2015 survey revealed that a vast majority (80 percent) of first year medical students demonstrated implicit bias against LGBT patients, and half expressed explicit bias. Such attitudes are only reinforced as students progress through medical school programs, with most medical schools dedicating a mere five hours to LGBTQ-specific training.
10. More than 175 anti LGBT healthcare laws were proposed in 32 states around the U.S. in 2016.
The causes of these discriminatory attitudes are in many ways systemic and will require reform at the level of government and institutional operation. In 2016 alone, more than 175 anti-LGBTQ laws were proposed in 32 states around the U.S, almost 10 percent of which sought to deny protections and access in relation to healthcare.
There is perhaps no more imminent threat to the well-being of LGBTQ community than the dysfunctional system upon which we are currently forced to rely for basic medical treatment and mental health services. That’s why we’ve created a curated network of LGBTQ-affirming professionals in New York City. Because your doctor should be on your side.