How to find LGBTQ+ friendly health care
No matter who you are or how you identify, a key to good health and health care is trust.
“Being a patient can be such a vulnerable experience,” says Columbia psychiatrist Jonathan Amiel, MD. “There can be distrust and fear of being ostracized or misunderstood.”
This is especially true for people from minoritized gender and sexuality communities. And why finding health care providers—doctors, nurse practitioners, clinics, hospitals, etc.—committed to supporting the needs of the LGBTQ+ community has a positive impact on health.
People who trust their doctors feel at ease, which helps them talk more about what’s actually going on, which helps health care providers do their job. “When people trust their doctors, they open up more about fears and experiences they may not disclose to someone they fear,” says Amiel.
Disclosure is vital to good health care and to guide treatment plans for any given illness. The more you share with your doctor, the more the doctor can help you.
How to find a doctor who is an LGBTQ+ ally
An ally is someone who makes you feel safe, listens, and has empathy. An LGBTQ+ ally supports and advocates for LGBTQ+ people.
- Start by asking for referrals from people you trust.
- Search online by reading bios, profiles, and “about” sections. Look for mentions of commitment to and/or interest in providing LGBTQ+ friendly and affirming care.
- Ask a doctor questions as simple as: Is your practice LGBTQ friendly?
“You don’t need to be cared for by doctors who share your identity,” says Amiel, “but knowing they are allies can be reassuring.”
Jonathan Amiel, MD, is professor of psychiatry and senior associate dean for innovation in health professions education at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. He also is an attending psychiatrist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and NewYork-Presbyterian.