The treatment of lesbians, bisexuals, transgender and queer women in most societal settings is heavily reliant on assumptions.
LBTQ women have almost similar needs to heterosexual women, but they lack comprehensive medical attention because most service providers are not upskilled in how to deal with their specific needs.
Assumptions about LBTQ Women’s reproductive health
- Because they indulge in same-sex relationships, they are at low risk of contracting HIV and STIs.
- That they never have or will never have sex with men.
- Most service providers talk with them with the assumption that they are all heterosexuals, hence no special attention and comprehension is accorded to the unique challenges experienced by LBQ women.
- LBQ women don’t need to use contraceptives because they indulge in same-sex relationships.
- That they do not need regular screening for gynecologic cancers.
- LBQ women do not experience intimate partner violence because they are in same-sex relationships.
- Transgender people are treated with lesser dignity as most people act like they are smarter than them or that they could be possibly lying.
LBTQ women are at risk of dealing with severe medical conditions because they are the minoritized lot. The lack of an organization that deals explicitly with the health needs of LBTQ women has escalated the difficult health conditions they deal with.
Challenges faced by LBTQ women when seeking medical assistance
- Lack of confidentiality between the patient and the health care provider. The health practitioner is likely to engage his/her colleagues on private matters shared by the patient, a clear breach of privacy.
- Discrimination in how LBTQ women are viewed especially by religious health practitioners makes it hard for them to disclose fully the health issues they are experiencing.
- Medical insurance covers don’t offer spousal benefits for LBTQ women, hence accessing medical attention could be pretty expensive for them.
- Transgender persons specifically have trouble accessing medical insurance because of the lack of inclusion and diversity for trans people or gender non-conforming persons.
- Most of them are treated based on assumptions about their sexual lives. I.e they can’t contract HIV and STIs.
- However, most Trans people are most likely to be told they have HIV or are associated with it, without questions.
- Most healthcare providers assume they are heterosexuals so they only hold conversations based on this and pay no specific attention to the heteronormative side.
- No particular organization has been established to specifically cater for the health needs of LBTQ women.
Health issues faced by LBTQ women
- High risk of breast cancer The limited access to breast cancer screening materials like mammograms easily renders these women vulnerable to the disease. Early detection of breast cancer is the best way to deal with the disease, but LBTQ women are likely to detect the illness in its later stages, thereby being forced to deal with the expensive and mentally draining treatment procedure.
- Intimate partner violence LBTQ women are in fact the most affected by most forms of sexual and gender-based violence because of their sexual orientation. Contrary to the assumption that same-sex unions aren’t violent, women in these institutions are prone to violence mainly because of the aggrieved situation they are already in. The economic, psychological and mental frustrations fuel their violence. Drug and substance abuse is also a contributing factor to this challenge.
- Alcohol and drug abuse. Some lesbians are heavily reliant on drugs and alcohol to deal with their depressing mental situations. Most of them attribute this vice to the different forms of violence meted out against them. Unlike most social groups, most lesbians are likely to meet up for drinks more than they meet up for other fun social activities that could lower the harm to their health.
- Corrective rape Even In the 21st century, societies and parents still subject LBQ women to this traumatizing situation in attempts to ‘cure’ or heal their daughters. People fail to understand that corrective rape only diminishes the mental stability of individuals rather than ‘heals’ them. Such vile practices are the reason why most LBQ women resort to drug and alcohol abuse to deal with their anger, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.
- Gynecologic cancers Like heterosexual women, LBTQ women need frequent pelvic exam tests and pap tests to help in the early detection of anal, vaginal, oral, cervical and vulvar cancers. But the discrimination these women face impedes their access to these relevant medical exams which puts them at risk of contracting cancers. The situation is even worse when they are diagnosed with them, because few medical covers in different countries cover spousal benefits, frustrating the treatment process.
- Contraception The assumption that LBTQ women don’t or may never have sex with a man is the reason their access to contraception is limited. Bisexual women particularly need contraception because of the nature of their sexual orientation. This assumption is one of the reasons why LBTQ women with children are likely to be shamed for having children, even if it’s out of will.
- Pregnancy and childbearing Most LBTQ women want to have kids and families. Even though there are several medical options to enable this, access is still limited. Some of these methods include; Egg donation, Intrauterine insemination, embryo donation and In Vitro fertilization. Getting medical practitioners that understand the uniqueness of such situations and offer their medical expertise could be an upheaval task.
Some essential needs for LBQ women
- Dental dams They are latex and are used between the vagina and mouth during oral sex to prevent the possible contraction of illnesses. Here is a link to how they are used.
- Finger condoms They are a safe way to engage sexually and can be used by males too.
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