Supporting LGBTQ+ in healthcare
A recent study found that support for the LGBTQ+ community within the healthcare system is disproportionately unsatisfactory. More than half of the 108,000 respondents reported longer than average waiting times for mental health services, while 38% said they received negative treatment when trying to access public health services as a result of their gender identity.
Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ healthcare workers also face inequitabletreatment treatment in the same setting, with 11.8% reporting instances of discriminatory behaviour from their colleagues.
In this blog, we discuss how doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners can create a more inclusive environment, which ensures positive outcomes for both patients and fellow employees who identify as being a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Firstly, it is important never to assume someone’s gender identity as you cannot always tell which pronouns an individual uses just based on their appearance. Normalise asking people what their pronouns are when in doubt, but avoid asking what their ‘preferred pronouns’ are as this can be problematic. If it seems inappropriate to ask/or someone doesn’t feel comfortable disclosing this information, use ‘they/them’ pronouns as these are gender neutral – or simply refer to the individual by their name.
To show alliship with the LGBTQ+ community, get into the habit of sharing your pronouns when introducing yourself. You can also include your pronouns in your email signature. This will encourage colleagues to follow in your footsteps and subsequently, help create a more inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves.
For more information, including key definitions and terminology – check out this Harvard Glossary for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging.
If there is something you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask a trusted friend, colleague or family member (preferably a trusted source!). Alternatively, it is a good idea to consult Google if you want to clarify a definition or find out more about LGBTQ+ history.
Notice someone displaying discriminatory behaviour? Call it out and report it to your superior. Even if the person making derogatory remarks is a patient, it is crucial to emphasise that the practice/hospital/healthcare institution does not tolerate homophonic, transphobic or any kind of discriminatory language.
Learn from your mistakes
In the event you unintentionally misgender a colleague or make a distasteful comment, it is crucial to apologise and move forward. As long as you are open and honest about the fact that you made an error then hopefully the person you are talking to will be understanding and maybe even help educate you so it doesn’t happen again in the future.
Know your privilege
Being conscious of your own privilege (whether you were born able-bodied, wealthy or able to access higher education etc), will help you emphasise with marginalised groups. For example, some cis people may not understand the importance of using pronouns because they have likely never experienced being misgendered – so thinking about it from another person’s perspective can really help put it into perspective!
Actions speak louder than words
It is not enough to simply label yourself as an LGBTQ+ ally without backing it up with your actions. Call out offensive comments and explain why they are harmful, accept when you are wrong and be graceful about it and show support on a day-to-day basis. All of these things will help tackle LGBTQ+ prejudices because multiple voices are better than one.
Amaré Health is dedicated to ensuring staff, clients and candidates feel safe and empowered in the healthcare sector and appreciate your commitment to making this happen.
To get in touch with our team please email [email protected].