Saturday, October 31, 2015
Medical Care and the LGBT Community
Hospitals and medical staff are beginning to understand the importance of certain special concerns in treating the LGBT community. This group has special needs and sensitivity issues that may need to be addressed.
In fact, I believe that it is a serious mistake to group together the lesbian, gay and bisexual community with the transgender community – specifically transsexual. No, I am not transgender and I don’t even have family who are (not that I am aware of) but I study this topic, talk to people who are, and have been at the bedside as a patient safety advocate for people who are transgender.
The medical needs of the transgender community, in my non-medical opinion, are very different from those of the LGB community. Who you love — as in being L, G or B — is different from who you are. Just as important, is how transgender people see themselves. A lesbian may be very accepting of her body and may not cringe at the thought of exposing it.
A transgender person, on the other hand, may have been ashamed their entire life of their body parts. Taking testosterone or hormones may have changed a transgender person’s body dramatically but without surgery; this can be surprising and confusing to healthcare workers who have not been taught about transsexuals and the stages in their transitions.
A woman who needs a prostate exam, or a pregnant man, should not be cause for alarm or even curiosity. This is not part of the lesbian and gay society. Many transgender people started off as gay or lesbian and some have become gay or lesbian. But that’s not always the case: as one friend explained to me, he is just a straight man now – almost.
Ilene Corina is the President of PULSE of NY, a community based patient safety organization and a patient safety consultant. She received a scholarship with the NPSF / AHA Patient Safety Leadership training where she studies patient safety in diverse populations on Long Island. One group she has worked with is the transgender community.