Discrimination Against LGBTQ+ in Health: How Can We Change This?

Discrimination Against LGBTQ+ in Health: How Can We Change This?

Coming into Thursday’s lecture, I was well aware of most of the discrimination that people in the LGBTQ+ community face in both the health field and in life in general. However, one of the most surprising things I learned was who initially pathologized homosexuality. I quickly assumed that the church/religion would have started this idea, but instead I found that it was actually medical professionals. Because of this, homosexuality was then diagnosed as if it were a disease. From then on, the stigma of anything outside the heteronormative person became evident and that stigma still persists today—through conscious and unconscious biases. And while bias against the LGBTQ+ community is clearly present, it surprised me to learn that bisexuals were more discriminated against in comparison to lesbian or gay people.
Discrimination of LGBTQ+ peole because of their sexual or gender orientation is not new to me, but it’s always shocking in the way that people would be discriminated against for something so seemingly trivial. While some biases against this community may be unconscious, this problem must still be addressed. I think the first step to confront this problem is to be informed of gender and sexual orientation and expression. I think by learning more about the different ways people can express themselves made it easier to be more understanding of others in the LGBTQ+ community. Being more informed about others and consciously acknowledging our biases against this and other communities would be a big step in the right direction to ending discrimination in the health field. What else do you think can be done to counter discrimination and bias against LGBTQ+ individuals in the health field?

27 thoughts on “Discrimination Against LGBTQ+ in Health: How Can We Change This?

  1. I was very surprised as well that health professionals were the main cause of the stigma against the LGBTQ+ community. Writing that homosexuality is a mental disease caused a lot of backlash against the community that is still present today. I thought this really showed how someone’s person bias can come to play even in a professional setting. The diagnosis of homosexuality as a disease did not seem to have much medical proof and was published because these people were different and not accepted by the general population at the time.
    I definitely think that people being more informed about the LGBTQ+ community will help relieve a lot of the stigma against this community. In discussion, many people said they would be outside of their comfort zone because they felt they weren’t as informed as they could be and didn’t want to make a huge mistake that could hurt the patient. Being well-informed will also lead to people making fewer quick judgments against LGBTQ+ individuals. In the health field, these fewer judgments will allow the health professionals to focus on the symptoms of the patient and less on their personal bias toward their patient.

  2. I was also shocked at the fact that medical professionals were at the front of the discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Medical professionals are people we should be able to trust and this made me think about what they could be discriminating against today. I also think you are correct that education about the LGBTQ community is the first step to eliminate discrimination. I was surprised at the amount of knowledge that I lacked prior to Adam’s presentation, and I still have lots to learn. Another way that each and every one of us can eliminate discrimination against the LGBTQ community is by simple speaking up. When overhearing someone speaking poorly about the community, call them out and explain why they are incorrect.

  3. As the others have stated, the fact that the LGTBQ community has faced so much controversy and criticism is attributed to health professionals is extremely unexpected. I originally thought that other, social factors would be the influence, such as ideology promoted by the church or media representations of the LGBTQ community. But nonetheless, health professionals went and labeled these people as having a mental disorder, which is completely inaccurate.

    In addition to learning more about gender and sexual orientation as discussed by other HSSPers, we can initiate a more aggressive plan, which is to encourage the LGBTQ community to express themselves. We won’t just know more about LGBTQ people, but create a comfortable environment for them. To do so, we can shape society so that these people won’t be looked at negatively anymore, but in fact embraced for their differences. We can start by speaking up, as mentioned, and encourage this perspective through the media, in the educational system, and forms of interpersonal contact.

  4. The fact that the LGBTQ community was discriminated the most by medical professionals is something that caught me off guard. I also assumed that it was the religious community was started the discrimination. By making homosexuality considered a mental disease, the treatments that followed reminded me of insane asylums where psychologists tried to deal with them with crazy treatments.

    In order to deal with this I feel that medical professionals should take sensitivity training so they can feel more comfortable dealing with the LGBTQ community . Times have changed, and I believe that if one is trying to help people by being doctor, then they have to help everyone.

  5. I was also taken aback by the fact that medical professionals were among those who discriminated the most against the LGBTQ community. Kyler’s story is especially upsetting to me because his mother took him to the hospital when he was in spiral, and trusted the healthcare professionals to help him. The healthcare professionals inappropriate behavior arguably indirectly attributed to Kyler taking his own life.

    You would think that healthcare professionals would and should be among the most informed and unbiased people because of their profession, but in many cases it is not so. I believe that in order to counter discrimination and bias against LGBTQ individuals in the health field there needs to be better education for healthcare professionals about the LGBTQ community and how to better serve their needs and respect their identities.

  6. I was surprised as well that it wasn’t the church who was starting the mass prejudice against the LGBTQ community, but medical professionals. I feel that the movement has moved a great deal forward, but there is still a long way to go for the community. One of my favorite music videos, called “make it stop” by rise against, portrays the horrors that occur during LBGTQ bullying, and the sad reasons for the highly escalated suicide rate. I once again feel that education is a key factor in helping to lower these factors. Being in New York for the weekend, I saw many same sex couples , and was happy to see the fact that most people in the city were just as welcoming to them. Now this doesnt mean that the problem is over by any means, but I do feel acceptance has come a long way and continued education will further acceptance. My question to other bloggers: Was LBGTQ bullying and/or hazing a large problem at your high school? And how does it compare to a liberal school like Michigan?

  7. I was also surprised that it was medical professionals, not the church, that started discriminating against the LGBTQ+ community. In my mind I always thought of doctors and the entire medical community as saints that served to heal people. I think the most important step going forward is passing a mandate that prevents discrimination in a medical setting. Setting a strictly enforced law in place has the potential to end, if not all, a significant amount of the current discrimination towards LGBTQ+ people.

  8. You say we should consciously acknowledge our biases. I agree, but to play devil’s advocate, how easy is it to do that? The thing about our biases are that they are subconscious and automatic. To constantly pull those subconscious thoughts out into the conscious mind is harder than it sounds because we usually do not know we have the biases that we do. It would also slow our thinking down because we would always have to stop and make sure our decisions have no undertones of bias. However, it may be worth it to slow down when it comes to medical diagnoses and treatments.

  9. I agree that most biases we have are unknown to us, but simply acknowledging the fact that we all do have biases is better than denying we have any at all. The medical professionals that pathologized homosexuality could have likely not even realized they were being biased. That is why implicit bias can lead to disastrous results. For example, the doctors that treated the transgender man, who was denied care because they thought he just wanted his insurance to cover transition-related surgery and turned out to have uterine cancer, probably didn’t intentionally overlook all the signs that led to uterine cancer, but their implicit bias against transgenders caused them to overlook serious medical issues. I think that if medical professionals recognized these common biases that occur among the LGBTQ+ community, there would be more awareness and effort to control these biases.

  10. I was also surprised that medical professionals pathologized the LGBTQ community first. I also thought that it would be religious leaders who did this. What was also surprising to me were the medical tests that the LGBTQ people had to endure in order to “cure their disease”. The effects from pathologizing the LGBTQ community still exist today. Some people still refuse to accept LGBTQ people for who they are and instead assume that it is a “fixable problem” or it’s just a “phase”. It’s so unfortunate and heartbreaking that stigma still exists for the LGBTQ community. I agree that an important step that needs to be taken is to inform people of gender and sexual orientation and expression. It’s hard to force people to be open minded and more understanding unless they are better informed and exposed to the LGBTQ community.

  11. I definitely agree that with your idea that health professionals should be more educated on different gender identities. When I first learned about health care disparities caused by implicit bias, I was in utter shock at the idea that modern HEALTH PROFESSIONALS, people whom go through years of schooling and training and people whom’s hands we put our lives in, would let something as absurd as personally-mediated bias influence their medical works in protecting the health/lives of innocent people. However, this made me realize the importance of medical professionals wholeheartedly individualizing each and everyone of their patients and making sure that they fully understand where each of their patients are coming from. Only after they are entirely empathetic with their patients can they wholeheartedly focus on providing each patient with the best treatment possible.
    Additionally, this lecture has presented the fact that although we may not notice it, we all have implicit biases that influence our actions, whether it be in the biggest or slightest way possible. During this lecture, I couldn’t help but tie the topic to the ongoing issue of police violence, and how many of the incidences are mediated by the officers’ internal bias/racism. On one of the The Daily Show’s with Trevor Noah, Trevor addresses the root of the all the shooting problems as well as what we must do to stop them. He talks about how a police department in Las Vegas has been making major progress through their new program in which officers are trained on how to assess and deescalate similar situations; the first major and critical step that they did was acknowledge the fact that they have problems properly interacting with suspects. Similarly, the first step that health professionals must do is own their mistreatment and acknowledge their implicit bias. The training process however would be completely different for medical professionals compared to police officers; their training must go back to the early fundamental years of med/grad school, if not undergrad. While it may take many, many years to reform health professional programs, if we don’t initiate the first steps now, who knows how many more lives will have to continue to pay the price.

  12. We are now in a much better place than we were in the 1980’s in terms of LGBTQ+ health. The stigma against homosexuality arose from medical professionals’ pathology. After this “diagnosis”, people started assuming that homosexuality is a disease that needs to be cured. This initial stigma is what caused such a health disparity in LGBTQ+ people in the first place.

    I think that in order to ease the health disparities in LGBTQ+ people, we should start by educating our nation about these health disparaties and their causes. This way, some of the stigma will be eased a little bit.

    1. I agree with your ideas that educating the public about problems the LGBTQ community faces is important. Reading the article titled ” In The Hospital, There’s No Such Thing as a Lesbian Knee,” made me realize how little I know about the discrimination the LQBTQ community faces in healthcare. I think by sharing articles such as this on sites where people read them would greatly draw attention to this subject that definitely needs more attention and activism.

  13. It was shocking to learn that well-educated medical professionals whose mission is to help patients with their illnesses were the ones who first pathologized the LGBGTQ community. However, it makes me wonder if medical schools and hospitals around the world are starting to take action and trying to educate medical students/medical professionals in the LGBTQ community.
    Also, as we learned, implicit biases plays a role in our decision-making process and medical professionals are constantly trained to make quick and accurate diagnosis . When I took the Skin Tone implicit bias test, my results told me that I have a strong automatic preference for light skin tone over darker skin tone, which shocked me. It made me question if I have ever made a decision or assumption about a person based on their skin tone without my own knowledge. This made me realize that medical professionals are capable of doing the same thing to their patients without their knowledge.

  14. Thank you for your comments regarding the lecture on LGBTQ health. It is important to realize that while stances differ regarding the LGBTQ community, loving others is crucial to providing not only the best health care but also developing friendly relationships. Note, however, that love does not always equate to agreement with a particular lifestyle. In order to improve the healthcare of all individuals, healthcare professionals need to treat all patients with the same amount of care no matter what their circumstance. In instances where treatments may prove detrimental to a patient, providers must discuss treatment options with patients, communicating effectively the risks or benefits of pursuing particular routes.

  15. I do want to agree that the most surprising bit of information from this week was the fact that medical professionals were the first people to be against the LGBTQ community. It is similar to the early fear with AIDS/HIV; people were very judgmental because they did not know anything about it. In most situations, I think knowledge is power.
    I believe the first step that should be taken in countering LGBTQ community biases is to first be aware of any biases we have may within ourselves against the community. Then, it is important that we are able to identify biases in other people, especially if said people are working within the health field, as it could jeopardize the quality of medical practice and/ or medical opinions. I also think it is important to inform the public about LGBTQ community, so it does not seem as unknown and scary. People tend to stray away from what is different, but if there is a plethora of information, it gives people the impression that it is okay to talk about LGBTQ topics and learn about the community. However, the biggest step that can be taken to counter LGBTQ bias is to inform the people on the disparities and biases out there. If the LGBTQ discrimination is brought to people’s attentions, it cannot be as easily denied and there could be more people who are willing to help against the unjust treatment that is taking place.

  16. First, I completely agree that the primary issue is misunderstanding or an absence of knowledge surrounding the LGBTQ community. My opinion is that this problem is natural and the process to solve the problems is natural as well. When the majority of a population is introduced to something they would consider “abnormal”, an immediate response is defensive and in this case, malicious. With that said, this is not a justification for the discrimination against the LGBTQ community, but rather reassurance that change is coming. This movement is naturally evolving, and it has already come a very long way.

  17. I think as a whole discrimination is due, in general, to ignorance. I don’t believe many of the people who oppose gay marriage or are homophobic know any gay people. Stereotypes and discrimination develop largely from the dehumanization of people. People need to understand the behaviors of gay people better to overcome their own biases. In order for people to understand other people they need to meet other people. Any scientific study could come out saying homosexuality was genetic. People would still choose to believe whatever they wanted to believe. However, having a friend who was a homosexual, bisexual, or transsexual could help them empathize with the cause.

  18. After reading many posts I think it’s fair to say that we were all surprised that medical professionals were at the front of the discrimination against the LGBTQ community. The question is why are we shocked about this? I think doctors are the most discriminating people. By definition, discrimination means to recognize a difference and it is the doctors job to recognize the difference each patient has versus a healthy person. However, it is important to note that what medical professionals have done wrong in the past is they put people into groups and labeled one as the “others”. Doctors should’t categorize an epidemic to one group of people because there is no such thing as differing groups of people, we are all humans with the same biological and anatomical qualities and thus we are all susceptible to the same infections. To answer your question on how to counter discrimination in the health field, medical professionals must individualize each patient and figure out what the best possible treatment is for them.

  19. I think one of the many reasons certain doctors are discriminatory to transgender people is because most of them don’t really understand the process of it or have any experience with the hardships that come with being transgender. It is also possible that, they are confused as to how to treat someone who may biologically be one sex but spiritually and emotionally be of the opposite one. I think that, to solve these problems, more emphasis should be put on treating transgenders in med school so that, from an early age, doctors are comfortable and know how to approach treating a transgender patient. Doctors are supposed to be people you can trust to help you and treat you as any other person but, right now, that is not the case. So, to me it is obvious something must change in regards to discriminatory actions within the healthcare system.

  20. I also found it quite surprising that medical professionals were at the forefront of the discrimination towards the LGBTQ community. People sworn with the delicate task of saving the lives of others were brazenly disregarding the health of the very people they swore to treat under the Hippocratic Oath.
    To remedy this situation, some people suggested that there needs to be greater information and awareness of the disparities facing the LGBTQ community. However, I would argue that this is insufficient. Simply increasing awareness of something doesn’t prevent it from occurring – it only puts an idea in the minds of people.
    Therefore, I propose that a law, or some form of revision of the AFA exist that prevents health professionals from discriminating patients based off of sexual orientation. The AFA’s section 1557 already prevents discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability, so all that’s needed is a small revision added that prevents discrimination based off of sexual orientation.

  21. I thought that I knew almost everything that the LGBTQ community faces when it comes to struggles in the health care field. I came to this assumption because mostly all of my friends are apart of this community. However, in Thursdays lecture I came to realize that to actually understand fully you must do your research and in some cases be apart of the community. The most shocking thing about lecture was that doctors first discriminated against the LGBTQ community i just assumed that it was the church. It really pissed me off that the government refused to acknowledge HIV/AIDS as an issue. I believe that if it had affected the majority then we could have saved so many countless lives. On solution of this is to make people aware of the correct terms of people in the LGBTQ community. Also, if we make people aware of their bias then they will be more inclined to watch out for those when working.

  22. Most of the time, discrimination comes from ignorance and lack of related knowledge. Ignorance brings fear because it is natural for people to fear for the unknown. Therefore, I strong agree with what you said that the first step to confront the discrimination towards LGBTQ+ community is to be informed by the sexual and gender orientation and expression. However, the way of spreading this kind of information could somehow be crucial, because some people could not understand, or unconsciously refuse to understand that there are different gender expressions and sexuality orientation due to their background, the education they received, or many other factors. For instance, my grandparents grew up being educated that homosexuality is unnatural. They did not understand the concept of LGBTQ+ and refused to listen to me explaining this. Could you blame them for being kind of ignorant and having this naturally discrimination towards gay people? I don’t think so. If people were born and educated in a certain circumstance that barely accepted LGBTQ people, it could be very hard for them to change their perspective. This is the problem that bothered me for a long time and I really hope one day we could find a way to figure out how to let our society be a more comprehensive environment.

  23. I agree that becoming more familiar with LGBTQ terms and the spectrums of sexual orientation and gender expression is a very important first step to supporting this community and abolishing the biases against it. In doing this, we are automatically establishing our support and uplifting the community, because becoming familiar with the things that make up such a huge parts of many people’s identities and lives is, in turn, showing love and respect to everyone in the community. Since, a love and respect from all people for the LGBTQ community is our end goal, becoming familiar with these things is essential. However, this is only the first part of the process- the second would be integrating this knowledge, love, and respect into our families, friendships, and jobs. Unfortunately, things like this don’t take place overnight- they take lots of time, patience, and perseverance.

  24. Well said! I also was surprised that the source of discrimination against LGBT patients was medical professionals. It occurred to me that perhaps these medical professionals believe they are helping LGBT patients by attempting to “cure” them of their sexuality that they have pathologized. This is not a correct view, as it treats a subset of people as functionally incorrect, which is not scientifically true. Homosexuality is more comparable to a genetic trait, rather than a disease. Thankfully, this view will decrease in prevalence, as the correlation between homosexuality and HIV has been disproven. However, we must all address our biases to provide equal treatment for all patients, regardless of gender or sexuality.

  25. It is awful to say—and maybe it was because I was exposed to so many human cynical things—but I was not surprised at the fact that the biggest discriminators to the LGBTQ community were doctors. I think the best way to combat this discrimination is to bring awareness about the differences in varying communities.

    The article about that boy that the doctor kept misgendering who ultimately killed himself really touches me. It was not as if the doctor intentionally did that—but there are consequences to being unaware in general. I think social ideas etc. are not as stressed in the medical field as other subjects where in most cases you’ll have the most human to human interaction. It is important to bridge those relationships with people from varying backgrounds to prevent something like from happening, so-to-speak.

    This ties into my unsurprised realization at the discrimination that continues to occur—why wouldn’t it if people are not exposed or educated at an earlier age? Humans are naturally prone to fearing what they don’t know. I don’t know if that propensity is magnified in doctors, especially.

    It would be interesting to analyze these ideas.

  26. Just like you, I was also shocked that unlike what I would have though the medical professionals were there ones to discriminate the most. However, I don’t think that I am the only one who was not aware of this. I learned a lot from the entire lecture and I think that is what speaks the most.
    As far as “where do we go?” I think awareness will be the biggest impact. Those who are not within the LGBT community have no idea of these atrocities. Once more people are aware it will bring more attention. It really strikes me how because someone identifies within the LGBT community that somehow the world views their life as worth less. People should be better, especially physicians. It is because of these things that makes me want to improve the health care system. I hope that other people in our generations are being educated. It can help a lot if from here on out those learning are taught. That way when we got into the field we have a better understanding and can give people the care they deserve.

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