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Gay And Lesbian Often Discriminated In Healthcare


The AMA News reported in their June 4th issue that only10 in 166 outpatient clinics and hospitals have equal-treatment policies for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender patients and health professionals. Their information came from a May report released by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Assn. and the Human Rights Campaign advocacy group.

While the AMA modified its policies in 2007 to specifically prohibit discrimination against transgender physicians, medical students, and patients many hospitals and clinics do not have such policies. Only 93 hospitals and 73 clinics responded to the survey so the results are not a representative sample of industry wide practices.

Most of the ones that did respond noted sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination policies, allowed equal visitation access for same-sex partners and parents, had cultural competency training on sexual orientation and offered health benefits for employees with same-sex partners. Yet even gay-friendly hospitals and clinics often do not have written policies to not to discriminate against transgender patients.

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It is common for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender patients to withhold medical information from their physicians. The main reason for doing so is fear of discrimination. This can end up making it difficult to address health and wellness issues for these patients as both their birth gender and their “life” gender will effect their health.

GLMA President-Elect Rebecca A. Allison, MD, is reported as stating that more than 93% of all transgender patients may be addressed by an incorrect name or incorrect pronouns. Often these patients are placed in a room with other patients of their birth gender rather than their “life” gender.

Healthcare should not discriminate.

AMA News