Why LGBT Health?

The Sellers Dorsey Foundation seeks to improve the health of the LGBT community.

While additional data collection is needed to better define differences, and efforts are underway to do so, research has demonstrated that health disparities exist for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. In other words, members of the LGBT community have worse health outcomes than their non-LGBT peers.

Consider statistics gathered from various sources by the Center for American Progress. Compared with 82% of heterosexual adults having access to health insurance coverage, only 77% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals have access to health insurance. Nineteen percent of transgender people report being refused medical care because of their gender identity, and 2% report being violently assaulted in a doctor’s office. Lesbian and bisexual women are less likely to receive mammograms and may be more likely to receive a later-stage breast cancer diagnosis.

Health disparities are not limited to physical health, as there are glaring examples of mental and behavioral health disparities, too. For instance, lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are significantly more likely to attempt suicide, and 41% of transgender adults have tried to commit suicide, compared to 1.6% of their cisgender peers.

Researchers investigating the causes of these disparities have identified three key factors:

  • Ongoing stigma, homophobia, and transphobia causing some members of the LGBT community to be fearful of talking openly about sexual orientation or gender identity to health care providers and to be hesitant in seeking appropriate health care;
  • Lack of ongoing cultural competency training of health care providers to care for the LGBT community; and
  • Legalized discrimination in state and federal laws causing a lack of access to affordable health care.