We use the term LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and more) and acknowledge a range of terminology preferences exists.
Improve access to care.
Small changes to healthcare office policy, procedure and approaches can reduce barriers to treatment.
We used focus group feedback from LGBTQIA+ community members to share guidance with you.
|“Hospitals [were] not an option. It was never a haven for me, never safe for me… Other organizations are forwardly LGBTQ, they were welcoming…” – Focus group participant
Help all people feel welcome in your office.
Many people’s name or gender differs from their medical chart or ID. Some LGBTQIA+ people may avoid healthcare because of historic or personal experiences of homophobia or transphobia within the medical system.
Improve name and ID policies.
Record a patient’s sex assigned at birth, gender and preferred name on intake forms. Ask patients for their pronouns.
|“[The] biggest barrier medically in general for trans people is that sort of disconnect that’s visual dysphoria or [in]congruence between your legal ID.” – Focus group participant
It’s better to ask.
Many LGBTQIA+ people choose names that better reflect their identities. For some, it can be traumatic to be called their old name, whether or not they have changed it legally. “Deadnaming” is a reason trans people may avoid healthcare.
Create a visibly safe space.
Make a safe space where patients feel free from harassment, judgement or other emotional or physical harm. Show your space is welcoming and safe. These visual cues and symbols can help you do this:
- A non-discrimination statement. Check out this example from American Medical Association.
- Brochures about LGBTQIA+ health concerns.
- A rainbow flag, unisex bathroom signs or LGBTQIA+ friendly symbols where appropriate.
- Posters from nonprofit LGBTQIA+ or HIV/AIDS organizations.
- Use gender neutral language.
|“They know it’s safe for them if everyone understands them and understands their language. I’m not going to go in and look at people who don’t understand me. I’ll turn around.” – Focus group participant
Learn about sexual orientation and gender identity.
|“I think we’re more of a community-oriented people than others. We know how important it is to be together in a group as a community and we want other people to have access to that space and that resource.” – Focus group participant
Learning About Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) from University of Connecticut School of Social Work
Take LGBTQIA+ training.
|“Work with trans people around informational messages. You can also pay us to write that language for you.” – Focus group participant
|American Medical Association
|Creating an LGBTQ+ Friendly Practice
|How to welcome LGBTQIA+ patients.
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
|Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health
|LGBTQIA+ health resources for clinicians, researchers and other health professionals.
|The Joint Commission
|Effective Communication, Cultural Competence and Patient- and Family-Centered Care for the LGBTQ+ Community
|Communication and care guide for LGBTQIA+ patients.
|Sexual Health History: Talking Sex with Gender Non-Conforming and Trans Patients
|How to discuss sexual health with gender non-conforming and transgender patients.
|OutCare Health Website
|Resources, trainings and healthcare directories for LGBTQIA+ patients, providers and insurance companies.
|Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ+ Equality
|LGBTQIA+ focused research, advocacy and education.
|U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
|LGBTQI+ Health & Well-being
|Health reports, resources and non-discrimination rights for accessing healthcare.
Connect with local LGBTQIA+ organizations.
|“I got my first flu shot last year and am going to get it again this year. We know that we have to sometimes be a little uncomfortable to make everyone more comfortable.” – Focus group participant
|Diversity Alliance of the Puget Sound
P.O. Box 6942
Bellevue, WA 98008
|Serving the trans and gender diverse community of Washington State through direct service and financial and material assistance programs. We work to provide resources, education, a safe space for our community to be their authentic selves, as well as, financial support.
|“Being a Pacific Islander trans woman, we like to be around family. I didn’t want to be the reason my nephews and nieces got sick. Protecting myself, my family, my coworkers and my friends. And peace of mind.” – Focus group participant
841 Central Ave. N. Suite C-106
Kent, WA 98032
|Creating a safe, welcoming, supportive and vibrant space for members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
|“[We] work[ed] hard to bring vaccines into the community because they’re not readily accessible. Getting a vaccine is not as easy as it is for white, heterosexual folks.” – Focus group participant
|“[I] learned a lot about the vaccine being staff at Utopia. [I] felt safe there and now I had all that information I am going to go forward and get my shots.” – Focus group participant