Healthcare for the LGBTQIA+ Community

Despite current legislation across the country that affects the LGBTQIA+ community, the medical profession has a responsibility to treat and serve all people. In order to provide the best possible care for all of our patients, it’s important to make sure we understand the challenges our patients may face. Going the extra step to be an ally improves patient/provider trust and increases the chance for positive medical outcomes.

Like all patients, members of the LGBTQIA+ community want to feel safe, heard and respected. Simple changes we can make within our practice will provide an environment that indicates they can be their authentic selves.

  • Start with the moment a person walks into the office. Having a rainbow decal on the door is a small symbol that shows patients this is a safe space.
  • A poster in the waiting area or a magazine that is targeted toward the LGBTQIA+ community are also small steps that can have a big impact.
  • Gender-neutral bathrooms are another. We don’t need to reconfigure plumbing, just add a simple sign indicating that anyone is welcome to use the facility.
  • Providing staff with pronoun nametags is also a subtle, yet important, way to indicate the office and staff care for the patients who may be otherwise struggling to feel welcome.

Altering office forms will help bridge gaps and build trust. Including areas on forms for patients to list their preferred name, pronouns, gender assigned at birth, and gender identity will help to build comfort and helps ensure medical records are current.

When meeting with a patient, consider adding a rainbow flag to the back of the clipboard and introduce yourself with your name and pronouns and ask them, “What name do you use and what are your pronouns?”

During the course of the appointment, if the wrong pronoun is mistakenly used, apologize and move on and then work on getting it right for the remainder of the appointment. Don’t make an apology about them and don’t dwell on the misstep. A genuine apology for an honest mistake will be recognized as such without compromising trust.

If your patient is transgender, building trust is critical in ensuring they’re receiving the screenings they need for their body. For example, if the patient is a transgender man, an office policy might include that anyone over the age of X who has a uterus will need a pregnancy screening before having a procedure. This may be necessary to ensure patient safety and health.

Let all of your patients know that you’re there to help them and that you support them without judgment. Allies of the LGBTQIA+ community help patients lower their risk of depression, anxiety, and suicide. And we can all agree, that makes for much healthier patients.

This information was presented at the ACOFP 60th Annual Convention and Scientific Seminars. We are pleased to offer more than 40 hours of AOA Category 1-A CME and (new this year!) AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™ to watch on-demand from the convenience of your home or office! Learn more:

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