Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Culturally Competent Health Care for LGBTQ

In medical workplaces, different types of people will seek different health assistance; and while the assistance provided shouldn’t be much different in terms of care, it very much is for certain individuals. We may live in a more progressive era, but people who identify as either lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or queer (LGBTQ) still face discrimination or discomfort when seeking healthcare services. Unfortunately, homophobia continues to exist in workplaces that are supposed to welcome everyone.

Instead of fostering culturally competent health care policies and services for LGBTQ people and their families, it seems that health care professionals are less willing to hide their predispositions on sexual and gender identities that differ from the social norm.

Courtesy of Google Images
Gay and bisexual people share the same health needs as their heterosexual counterparts, yet they are treated more poorly and far more unethically by medical practitioners. Such discriminatory behavior is inappropriate and illegal in America, but in our heteronormative-based culture, cases of such discrimination are often dismissed by authorities or go heavily unnoticed. This behavior only serves to reinforce the stigma that homosexuality is wrong, which further alienates the queer community.

Research has shown that fear of discrimination causes many LGBTQ individuals to delay or decline medical care and may also cause some folks to withhold personal—integral—information during clinical consultations. These behaviors can put individuals in dire situations, which can lead to both mental and physical danger. Fears and societal pressures may make it extremely difficult for patients to disclose same-sex behavior, but it is very important to do so in any health care setting where personal information is necessary for treatment. 

Medical practitioners can help ease tension and apprehension during consultations by creating a warm, judgment-free environment for all individuals. Nurses can also assist by not assuming heterosexuality or homosexuality; integrating questions about gender and sexual identity into health interviews and questionnaires can help to ensure that all individuals receive appropriate and inclusive treatment.

The following examples are found on the Human Rights Campaign’s website for both inclusive and non-inclusive styled questionnaires for determining appropriate gender and sexual identity.

         Option 1 (most restrictive):
Option 2: (less restrictive): 
Cissexual woman
Cissexual man
FTM (female-to-male)
MTF (male-to-female)
Other (please specify)

Note: Make sure the question is clearly optional (particularly for online forms) or allow people to self-identify by asking an open-ended question.

Individuals who have or are in the process of coming to terms with sexuality and gender should never feel the need to conceal sexual behaviors or gender identities from their health practitioners or consultants. With that being said, everyone deserves the right to nondiscriminatory medical advice and services, regardless of identity and who one chooses to engage in sexual behaviors with. 

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