LGBTQ+ Disparities and Inequities
By Alix Greenblattt
Alix Greenblatt is currently working for the CDC Foundation/New York State Department of Health as a facility surveyor in long-term care. She is also working on finishing her MPH
program at the University at Albany with a certificate in Global Health. Her goals are to one day work toward improving health rights for women and to work toward ending the stigma behind mental illness. She enjoys baking and music.
A number of groups across the United States lack proper representation in the healthcare area. Amongst the LGBTQ+ community, people-especially young adults and teens- are more vulnerable to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, sexual assault, and suicide. People in the LGBTQ+ community are vulnerable to diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). On top of this, this community is also commonly left out of the conversation regarding health. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), violence, substance abuse, mental health conditions, and eating disorders are only a few of the disparities that the LGBTQ+ community deals with- whether or not they can receive adequate healthcare.
No matter how much time passes, the discrimination that the LGBTQ+ community experiences in healthcare remains and even increases depending where you go. Healthcare providers continuously refuse patients their right to healthcare due to their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. The United States government is supposed to work for the people, not against them. The right to healthcare is a Human Right, but not every country sees that as a legal right. While most have some form of universal healthcare, not all do. To add onto the fact that the United States does not allow all their citizens to have access to healthcare, they also exclude more than others. In 2017-2018, the US Department of Health and Human Services signaled for rollbacks on regulations that prohibited discrimination against transgender people in federally funded healthcare programs. In the current day, the HHS has proposed regulations that would give providers a wider opportunity for providers to discriminate or refuse key services to those in the LGBTQ+ community.
Why it Matters
This all then begs the question. Why should this matter to you? Countries follow two philosophies, collectivism and individualism. The United States has a more individualistic undertone over collective- that the individual cares for them and their loved ones rather than society as a whole. Thus going back to the root question, why should this matter to you? If this was happening to you or to someone you loved, wouldn’t you want others to show you compassion or empathy? Topics like these often get brushed under the rug because many cannot relate to the seriousness of it. When it is not affecting a person directly, they often care less about it.
A lot of the health inequalities that the LGBTQ+ community faces are more likely to be resolved by the government. Policies that center around protecting, rather than attacking, the health rights of this community are only written by government officials. However, as a member of the general public, there are still things we can do. Reaching out to public officials via phone, email, or mail is a great way to have your voice heard. Joining local organizations or movements that help amplify the voices of the people in the LGBTQ+ community are also monumental steps for the public to take part in. If actions like these are not something for your comfort level, signing petitions-online or in person- can also lead to change.
Be an Activist
Most importantly, being an ally to people in the LGBTQ+ community is most important. The general public has a certain level of impact that they can reach, but at the root, being an ally for the community can have a everlasting impact. Feeling safe amongst friends, family, and/or community is something that a lot of people desire but may not be able to attain. Providing that feeling of safety and security has meaning, even if it does not always feel that way.