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  • Pride Month: LGBTQ*+ Health
    Added by My Identity Doctor
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    Rainbow Heart clip art

    LGBTQ* is an acronym that seems to keep growing, encompassing more and more people and groups of people who may not fall into the sexual orientation category known as heterosexual, or “straight”. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and other sexual and gender identity communities (expressed often in the asterisk [*] or plus symbol [+] may experience healthcare disparities and stigma from healthcare providers [1], and because of this, may have unequal access to health services and education.
    Some identities within the LGBTQ*+ include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer, as above, but also two spirited, intersex, asexual. [2] Sexual orientation and gender identity are fluid, and people may change sexual orientation or gender identity over time.  [2] This does not mean someone should be expected to “grow out” of who they are—sexual orientation and gender identity are crucial to who we are, and are—in my belief, and in scientific literature—not chosen, but innate. [2, 3]
    More and more cities are gaining access to LGBTQ*+ or affirming healthcare centres that are open and accepting of patients with non-heterosexual orientations, or individuals who are not cisgendered (cis is a term to identify that a person identifies with the gender that they were assigned at birth – ie. if you are a female who identifies as female, or male who identifies as male, you are cis, or cisgendered), such as those who are genderqueer or transgender. While for many of us accepting someone’s self-identified gender identity seems straightforward, this has been a historical issue in the medical community and can cause issues for patients who are transgender, genderqueer or gender non-conforming in accessing healthcare as their identified gender.
    For transgender people, access to an understanding healthcare provider is necessary to “transition” into the person’s gender identity, which may include using hormone therapy (which requires a doctors prescription), counselling and therapy, physician signature to change gender on government documents, and more—having an accepting physician can do a world of difference.
    As well, historically, stigma developed around gay men specifically, when HIV/AIDS became widespread in the 80s. The fact that the LGBTQ*+ population may be smaller than the hetero population means that sexually transmitted infections may tend to spread more quickly in these populations, as there is a smaller “pool” of sexual partners. Sex education, and awareness of issues as they pertain to the LGBTQ*+ community is imperative for physicians, so that they can provide care and education that is relevant to the population they are treating.
    While there are a few specific issues that LGBTQ*+ populations face that may be more unique to them, or of greater prevalence, the reality is, everyone needs healthcare—chronic disease doesn’t choose people based on their orientation or gender identity, so anybody with a chronic medical condition needs the support of a good doctor. As well, if you have a chronic medical condition, it’s also important to wear medical ID jewelry so that you are protected in case of an emergency.
    To those celebrating, Happy Pride!
    Published by My Identity Doctor on June 7, 2017


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