May 23, 2022
LGBT + people have higher rates of multiple health conditions (Photo: David Silverman / Getty Images)

Those comments often follow a similar theme: “We should treat everyone equally anyway, what difference does it make if they are gay?” Or “Why not wear a badge to show that you support all the different minorities? Does LGBT make people special?”

I must admit, as a member of the LGBT + community myself, I always find these remarks disappointing.

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I think the point of these comments is simple: equality and equality are not the same. If we are to aim for a truly individualized approach to healthcare, we need to aim for equity.

Stonewall published a paper a few years ago that examined attitudes towards LGBT + patients in healthcare. One discovery came to me: Many staff responded by saying that they treat all patients equally, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

I like to think that they tried to make sense of it in a positive way: they don’t discriminate. But there are situations in which treating everyone exactly the same actually hurts our patients.

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The problem is that, in some ways, we are different, and need to be respected. For example, LGBT + people have higher rates of smoking, alcohol abuse, substance abuse, heart disease, obesity and mental health problems.

We are often less likely to attend cervical screening appointments and may be at higher risk for certain types of cancer. We are at greater risk of social isolation, especially as we age, which affects our chances of developing other illnesses and problems.

These are just a few examples of the health differences for LGBT + patients. Combine this with the fact that because of the fear of discrimination we are more likely to actively avoid healthcare situations, you will begin to see a picture of the various challenges facing LGBT + people compared to others. ۔

As a medical student, I introduced several groups of colleagues to LGBT + healthcare in geriatric medicine. These sessions have always been well received, and the feedback generally reflects the fact that we have never taught it before, and there were many issues that people never considered.

Over the last two years, there has been an increase in the number of physicians and medical students discussing this aspect of medicine, which is excellent.

If we have any hope of continuing to provide healthcare to the LGBT + population, then healthcare professionals, now and in the future, need to know why they treat us differently. , And how.

I hope that this will cease to be an extracurricular part of medical education, and that it will become a standard part of shaping our future healthcare workers.

Until that time comes, I will wear my little rainbow badge and try to show my LGBT + patients that I am a safe person in a place where they feel insecure. Last but not least, the headline made you read this article: In that sense, we are all like that.

Molly Usborn is a junior doctor and a member of the BMA’s Scottish Junior Doctor Committee.

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