At FemmePharma, we believe that equality starts with health: good physical and mental wellbeing of marginalized peoples is fundamental to ending oppression. While our focus typically lies on women’s health, June is LGBTQ pride month, so we’d like to take the opportunity to stand in solidarity with this fellow minority group that faces medical biases and consequential healthcare disparities. We’re breaking out our rainbow wardrobe and wearing it proudly!
We’ve Come a Long Way…
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) listed homosexuality as a disorder until 1973 and transgender as one until 2013 (at which point it changed the pejorative gender identity disorder to gender dysphoria). These clinical changes reflect the larger cultural shift towards greater acceptance of the LGBTQ community that is currently taking place in the West. But a combination of “legal factors, social discrimination, and lack of culturally-competent health care” still unfortunately impacts the quality of care, access to care, and health-related decisions of LGBTQ individuals. In other words, sociocultural marginalization affects a person’s health – a lot.
And Have A Long Way Yet to Go
There are no LGBT*-specific diseases; however, members of this community are more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to experience certain medical conditions and hardships. For example, members of this population are less likely to have health insurance coverage (either through a job or partner), seek medical attention when necessary, or rate their overall health as very good to excellent. Some of the other top health concerns are:
- Mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder
- Suicidal ideation and suicide attempts
- Unhealthy body weight and body image
- Illicit drug, tobacco, and alcohol abuse
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Criminal and intimate partner violence
When a person is ostracized, criticized, and terrorized because of components of their innate self, it has a profound impact on all areas of life – not the least of which being health and wellness. As a culture, we need to continue fostering acceptance, understanding, and kindness. To reduce healthcare disparities, we need to grow the medical knowledge and data available about and for the LGBTQ community to better serve their healthcare needs. And as LGBTQ individuals wait for society to catch up to them, they can continue caring for their own wellbeing by finding doctors they trust, friends and counselors on which they can rely, and communities in which they can flourish.
So why not join us in wearing a little more rainbow this month, to show off your support for LGBTQ Pride? You’ll not only be supporting a civil rights movement, but helping out the health and wellness of others as well.
*Due to lack of medical research involving queer individuals, the Q is not included in this section.