Happy Pride Month!

On June 1st, 2021 President Joe Biden released a presidential proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month. This came along with the administration’s vow to push for the LGBTQ+ community’s equality not just verbally but in legislation as well. Throughout the years there has been copious amount of social science (i.e., Psychological) and medical research in the heightened risk for physical and mental health problems in LGBTQ+ people. This is in part due to individuals having difficulties in finding knowledgeable providers who can properly cater to their needs and increased anxiety over potentially discriminatory encounters and behaviors from insurers and healthcare providers. More often than not, many individuals delay or avoid care altogether due to these treatment concerns. A 2020 study found that around 15% of LGBTQ+ people avoid medical treatment due to fear of mistreatment and discrimination including 3 in 10 transgender individuals. And overall, more than 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ Americans faced discrimination in 2020.

Back in 2017, the Trump Administration worked heavily against protections for the LGBTQ+ community especially in regard to transgender individuals. Some of these actions including rescinding protection for transgender youth in schools, holding back regulations that would protect transgender individuals experiencing homelessness and allowing employment discrimination. In 2018 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suggested granting providers greater ability to discriminate or deny key services to LGBTQ+ members along with women by reason of moral or religious protest. Wonderfully, however, the UN Human Rights Committee stated that freedom of religion does not protect discriminatory behaviors.

The keys to change are once again education and legislation. Educating doctors and healthcare workers on the needs of the LGBTQ+ community not only helps them to offer the best care possible but also aids in eliminating stigmatization and discrimination. In 2020 about one third of transgender individuals reported they had to educate their own doctors to receive appropriate care. To enact change on the federal level, legislation needs to reflect the social changes in our world which, the Biden Administration is currently working towards in its effort to reverse the harmful Trump Administration and HHS regulations.

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