Health Concerns from an OB-GYN in the LGBTQIA+

So, I’m not going to lie. I have been wanting to write this article for a while but have been struggling. However, in honor of pride month and my first year with this digital platform, I am confident this is how I want to use my voice. The biggest source of my struggle has been making sure that I am inclusive with all of the information I present. As a black woman, I know what it feels like to read information and not feel that it relates to you and it is really important for me to not make that mistake myself. 

I think it’s important to first lay out on the table who I identify as. I am a cis-gendered, heterosexual black woman. So I will start with that. I am in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology which takes care of female reproductive organs. Some people may feel that it should be easy to write articles about OB/GYN topics because it should cover women’s health. In my opinion and experience, it is a little more complex.

That is because sex and gender are not the same. Sex is a biological term which refers to the body parts and hormones that we are born with and gender is a social construct. Gender is what society has determined males and females should look and/or act like. Therefore, there are people who can identify as male, female, no gender, nonbinary, and others because identity is how a person views themself, independent of outside influences.

This brings me to how it is hard for me to simply state that I take care of women’s health because it does not state accurately the patients I treat. I treat people with vaginas, uteruses, and ovaries. Those people can all look very differently, identify as a multitude of genders, and can be sexually attracted to a variety of different other people or to no one at all. My goal is to ensure that everyone who I see as a patient receives the best medical care I can provide them and have the most information in their toolbox to live their best lives!

So now that I’ve put that all out there from a medical professional and personal perspective,  I will be talking about some health issues that affect people with female reproductive organs who often are forgotten. This would include people who would consider themselves lesbian, bisexual, transgendered men, and many others that have the organs that I have mentioned but do not identify as a cis-gender female.

The reason why I would like to focus on this group of people is because it has been shown that they get sub par medical care, including reproductive health. People who fall under this group have been shown to have higher rates of depression, obesity, victimization due to domestic and sexual violence, and less screening for health conditions. Many of these differences in health outcomes and screening is due to systemic problems with prejudice in our society against the LGBTQIA+ community. There are many studies that report mistrust and mistreatment of members of this community in healthcare. In addition, there are misconceptions in the medical community about what the health needs of these patients are. This has directly impacted health outcomes.

Just like many of the recent discussions that we as a country are having about equality and equity for all of our citizens, we need to extend that discussion to health care. 

There are groups of people that are not getting the best treatment that they need, one group being the LGBT community, and we need to ensure that we improve things. We need to try harder to develop awareness and training in the medical community, so that we can provide better care to these patients!