Health Gaps And Problems Getting Care For Lgbtq+ People In The Area Still Exist


DELRAY BAY – This week is National LGBTQ+ Health Awareness Week.

Access is Hard for LGBTQ+ People
It’s not always easy for LGBTQ+ people across the country to get safe, cheap health care. Local LGBTQ+ people and supporters say it’s the same on the Delmarva Peninsula.

David Mariner, Executive Director of Sussex Pride, said, “It’s hard to find doctors in Delaware in general.” “It’s even harder to find someone who is comfortable talking to you as an LGBTQ person and who knows about the problems you face.”

In the Delmarva LGBTQIA+ Climate Survey in 2023, people complained about having to wait a long time for gender-affirming care and not having many sources to choose from.

The poll data was gathered and analyzed by Dr. Nicole Hollywood, who is a professor at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and a member of the Maryland Commission on LGBTQIA+ Affairs.

“I do believe that Maryland is rapidly becoming a more welcoming place for everyone.” The Eastern Shore, on the other hand, is behind,” Dr. Hollywood said. “A prevalent theme that ran through the results was the lack of adequate medical care for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in particular.”

More Differences in Health

When it comes to health, LGBTQ+ people generally have more problems than their straight and cisgender peers. LGBTQ+ people are more likely to get some health problems, like high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. Besides that, they are more likely to have mental health problems like sadness and anxiety, and they are also more likely to commit suicide.

“The things that we deal with every day that cause minority stress have an effect on our mental health,” Mariner said. “But there are also different ways that people deal with stress, and a lot of them are bad for them.”

Because they are afraid, Mariner says that many LGBTQ+ people may not go to the doctor when they need to for health problems.

Mariner said, “Some people just end up with providers that they may not feel comfortable telling everything to or who may not know as much about the things that affect our health.” It’s important to have providers with whom we can talk about our lives, like the person who will pick us up from the dentist’s visit or the person we call in an emergency. We want to feel good about sharing that information.

Know-how is Power

Dr. Hollywood says it doesn’t matter if it’s a regular check-up or a trip to the dentist. Comfort is important. “LGBTQ+ people do have teeth, of course.” She also said, “Nobody wants to be uncomfortable when they’re sedated and having oral surgery, for example.”

Mariner says that providers who know a lot about LGBTQ+ health problems can also be very helpful to people in the community.

“Now that summer is almost here, we’re talking about things like Mumps shots,” Mariner said. “Our health care providers need to think about LGBTQ health and take action to improve it.”

Advocates say there is one more important lesson the community needs to hear this week: keep the conversation going. “We can’t count on other people to speak up for us, so we need to be our own advocates and bring these issues up ourselves,” Mariner said.

Over the course of the week, Sussex Pride will be posting about LGBTQ+ health problems on their social media pages.

“We’ll talk about a lot of different things, like depression, drug abuse, and mental health.” “We will talk about Alzheimer’s in LGBTQ older adults and a lot of the other problems that affect us more than others,” Mariner said.

Struggling for Safety

In the future, some supporters hope that things will change at the state level.

Dr. Hollywood is one Marylander who is speaking in favor of Senate Bill 119. Some types of gender-affirming care would be added to the list of legally protected health care by the bill.

Some medicines and other goods would be used for those treatments. The bill would also protect legally people who cross state lines to get medical care in Maryland and the doctors and nurses who give them care.

“People are coming to Maryland as a sanctuary state to get medical care, and this would stop their home state from doing anything when they got back,” Dr. Hollywood said.

The bill has now made it to the House of Delegates, where the House Health and Government Operations Committee will look at it. The law would start on October 1, 2024, if it were passed.

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