We know that LGBTQ+ people are at a higher risk of experiencing depression, anxiety, and poor mental health. Stonewall’s recent “LGBT in Britain: Health Report” found that homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and discrimination could be a direct cause of this. Unfortunately, they also found that 1 in 7 LGBTQ+ people avoid getting a check-up for fear of discrimination from medical staff.
Whatever your identity, you deserve to feel listened to and understood by your medical practitioners. Sadly, this isn’t always the case, which often makes finding an LGBTQ+-inclusive doctor or therapist feel like a daunting task.
“We live in a world that is run by cisgender, heterosexual people,” Dr. Michael Beattie, a psychologist at Chartered Counselling, tells Flo. “That world is built for, and makes assumptions around, everyone being like that. If you don’t identify that way, then it can make many things more difficult, including access to health care.
“Research has also highlighted that some health care professionals don’t see the barriers that LGBTQ+ people face when accessing health care because of privilege – they don’t experience those problems themselves.”
Dr. Kecia Gaither, OB-GYN and doctor of maternal-fetal medicine, says that LGBTQ+ people also face another unnecessary barrier. They can experience “difficulty in finding health providers that are knowledgeable on the needs of LGBTQ+ patients. [In some countries,] providers may also refuse to care for LGBTQ+ patients, citing moral or religious rationales.”
This has a direct impact on their physical and mental health: “LGBTQ+ patients delay care for concerns of being mistreated or discriminated against. There are also inequities in health insurance sectors and cost-related hurdles to medical care.”
In this Flo guide, three medical professionals will explain how you can navigate difficult conversations and find the right LGBTQ+-inclusive doctor or therapist for you.