Healthcare disparities still perpetuate in our community

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January 6, 2011
By: Gricel M. Ocasio*/TRT Publisher
This issue of The Rainbow Times is devoted to a very important cause that we all face-healthcare. The New Year is often a time when people talk about resolutions. Many of those resolutions, I have witnessed throughout the years, have to do with health. Because of that, we dedicated this January, 2011 issue to LGBT healthcare. We hope you enjoy it!

When my wife and I have had to change doctors, or when my wife has called to make appointments for me, we always find ourselves asking questions such as: “Do you see gay patients? Is your doctor understanding of LGBT issues? Do you treat other married gay couples?” The questions go on and on, because we want to ensure that we are treated with respect and dignity-most importantly with rights. Believe it or not, we have had answers to these questions that still baffle us. Some of them have been: “We do not see LGBT patients. What does LGBT mean? You are a same-sex couple? You are partners (not married)? What did you say was your husband’s name was? Is she your sister/daughter?” These things still happen in Massachusetts-they still happen to us. And, if they still happen to us, chances are they also happen to you! That is why we continue our work to end LGBT ignorance. We need comprehensive education outside of the LGBT community too. Because of such questions and actions, we are often turned off by the healthcare system and opt not to see a practitioner, even when such treatment is needed. Because of that, we at TRT have tried to compile, through this issue, some of the most open and affirming LGBT hospitals, clinics and institutions, which showed interest to let our community know who they are, their commitment to LGBT health and the variety of services that they will offer to us-respectfully and openly.

According to the CDC’s website (cdc.gov), the LGBT community is defined as being “diverse, coming from all walks of life, and it includes people of all races and ethnicities, all ages, all socioeconomic statuses, and from all parts of the country.” In other words, treatment for our community is not simple, for we do not fit the norms established by this society. The site also states that “social inequality is often associated with poorer health status, and sexual orientation has been associated with multiple health threats. Members of the LGBT community are at an increased risk for a number of health threats when compared to their heterosexual peers.”

Needless to say, LGBT health care is often a very nerve-wracking experience, unless you are one of the few who is being treated by an open and affirming LGBT practitioner. The healthcare disparities affecting our people are not going away unless facilities and organizations start training their staff, working together to reduce the healthcare incongruences and combat such ignorance.

Happy New Year and may all of your resolutions come true!

*Gricel Martínez Ocasio is the co-founder, co-owner and Publisher of The Rainbow Times. She is a graduate of Marylhurst University (MBA, 2010) and of Temple University (1991). She has been in the journalism and publishing field for almost 20 years. You can reach her at: publisher@therainbowtimesnews.com.