Public health should be for everyone. Unfortunately in the United States, many healthcare providers are not given the necessary information or other tools they need to properly address the healthcare needs of the LGBTQ population, especially those who are older. Fortunately, by learning a bit more about LGBTQ people and the healthcare disparities they face, we can all help improve their healthcare outcomes.
We’re happy you’re taking the time to learn more about this community. You may be a little confused by the terminology, and that’s okay. Let’s discuss a few key terms that may help you better understand who the LGBTQ+ community is, so you can in turn better understand LGBTQ health needs.
Also known as the LGBTQ+ community or LGBT community, the LGBTQIA community includes people of all races, ethnicities, and ages.
LGBTQIA+ stands for:
People oftentimes use LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQIA, queer, and other related terms interchangeably.
The following terms are also important to keep in mind:
Now that you know some basic terms, let’s dive into how the U.S. healthcare system currently treats the LGBTQ population… and what we all can do to help change the current healthcare landscape.
Physical and mental health outcomes and access to resources for LGBTQ patients are worse than their non-LGBTQ peers in the United States. Some of the specific disparities facing this community include the following:
Why do these disparities exist? There are many reasons, although some contributing factors include the following:
Disparities even within this community exist; transgender patients face greater healthcare barriers than other LGB people. Some of the unique health disparities trans people in the United States experience include the following:
The following factors (and more not listed here) contribute to these poor outcomes:
Individuals who identify as both LGBTQ and people of color (POC), or people who are not White, face worse mental and physical health outcomes than their White LGBTQ peers or non-LGBTQ people. That means that health disparities for LGBTQ POC include the following:
The intersection of racial minority and sexual orientation/gender minority status means that LGBTQ POC face unique obstacles to facing healthcare access and quality medical care, including:
Aging is rarely easy; this fact is especially true for older adults who do not identify as heterosexual and/or cisgender. And there are a lot of older adults who identify as part of this community, with some experts estimating that there are over 2.4 million LGBTQIA older adults in the United States.
Unfortunately, little research exists about elder LGBT health disparities, although experts believe that plenty of factors, like the ones below, contribute to hardships accessing proper care and housing for this demographic:
As we’ve seen, LGBTQ people in the United States experience not just reduced access to healthcare services, but also often worse-quality patient care compared to their non-LGBTQ peers.
We think that needs to change.
While the following list is by no means exhaustive, the following steps can help the United States move toward healthcare equality for LGBTQIA folks, including those who are older:
We aren’t the only organization that’s here to advocate for the medical rights of aging LGBTQ adults. The following are just a few resources that LGBTQ elders, their loved ones, and their primary care providers may find useful:
Disclaimer – This article is for informational purposes only.