Sexual orientation and health disparities have always been linked. Studies show that sexual minorities (e.g., gay, lesbian, bisexual) experience larger extents of discrimination, shame, and tension causing a higher risk of poor health outcomes and behaviors when compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Most of all, these individuals are found to have a lower prevalence of access to health insurance as well as healthcare.
All people who are in need to medical care should be able to go to the hospital without the worry of being mistreated, harassed, or out rightly denied of service. However, discrimination in health care environments endangers the lives of LGBTQ people through denials of necessary care. One example of this discrimination was after one patient with HIV disclosed to have interactions with other men, the hospital staff spurned to supply his HIV medication. In another case, a transgender teenager in the hospital for self-inflicted injuries due to suicide attempts was repeatedly disrespected and misgendered. Moreover, he was discharged from the hospital early causing him to later commit suicide.
Despite current protections of LGBTQ people, they continue to face health care discrimination from harassment to humiliation by providers. According to a survey conducted by the CAP, it shows the several types of discrimination this community has had to face when seeking health care. Among LGBQ patients, 8% said that a doctor or other provider refused to see them because of their perceived sexual orientation, 6% said that a doctor or provider refused to give them health care related to their perceived sexual orientation, 9% said that a doctor or other provider used harsh or abusive language when being treated, and 7% said that they experienced unwanted physical contact from a doctor or other provider. Among transgender patients, 12% said a doctor or other provider refused to give them health care related to the gender transition, 23% said a doctor or other provider intentionally misgendered them, 21% said a doctor or other provider used harsh and abusive language when being treated, and 29% said that they experienced unwanted physical contact from a doctor or other provider.
It is important to create a safer environment for LGBTQ people discrimination ultimately discourages LGBTQ people from seeking health care. According to a survey conducted by the CAP, 14% of those who experienced this discrimination avoided or postponed needed medical care because of the disrespect and inequity from the health care staff. Avoiding medical care may result in late detection of disease, reduced survival, and potentially preventable human suffering.