Providing Care to the Gender & Sexually Diverse Population

Providing Care to the Gender and Sexually Diverse Population

This pamphlet is designed to give caregivers (family members, healthcare professionals, care home workers, and so on) the tools to more appropriately and effectively provide care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two spirit, intersex, and queer people (Queer*)

Reasons for Coming Out to Caregiver(s):

  • To facilitate more appropriate care
  • To create healthier, more honest relationship dynamics     
  • To disclose relationships relevant to care (for example, same-sex co-parents) 
  • Increased ability to disclosure of client’s current health status to same-sex partner 
  • In order to request or better advocate for certain medical procedures

 

Difficulties Associated With Disclosing to Caregiver(s):

  • Fear of reduced or substandard care
  • Fear of breaches of confidentiality leading to discrimination
  • An individual’s own internalized homophobia or transphobia makes it difficult to include information about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity
  • Heterosexist and cissexist assumption on the part of the caregiver; the caregiver gives no indication or acknowledgement that queer* people exist
  • Fear that an individual’s disclosure could reinforce anti-gay stereotypes the caregiver might have about the queer community

 

General Negative Responses from Caregivers:

  • Indifference which suggests a lack of approval and acceptance
  • Denial, ignoring, or avoiding the client’s disclosure of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity
  • Making the client’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity the focus of diagnosis
  • Dismissal of sexual orientation and/or gender identity as completely irrelevant
  • Discouragement from being comfortable with one's sexual orientation and/or gender identity
  • Failure to recognize client’s partner (i.e. refers to them as a friend)
  • Misguided statements
  • Blaming client’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity for medical problems
  • Recommendation of heterosexual or cisgender activity as a possible cure for medical problems
  • Refusal of care
  • Breaking confidentiality agreement with client
  • Refusal to allow client’s same-sex partner to visit
  • Mocking or making inappropriate remarks about patient's sexual orientation and/or gender identity
  • Assuming a client’s HIV+ status

 

Things caregivers can do to facilitate disclosure of a client’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity and to make the work environment more welcoming:

  • Post queer*-positive health posters in prominent and easily-accessible areas
  • Have queer*-positive literature (pamphlets, brochures, books) in your office
  • Display your office’s queer*-positive charters, missions, and principle statements at the entrance of your organization or workplace
  • Conduct inclusive, open interviews and oral histories (make it a group project!)
  • Acknowledge queer* issues in discussions and intake forms
  • Use inclusive language in all paperwork and daily operations (such as using gender-neutral terminology, or asking questions such as “are you sexually active with males, females, or both?”)
  • Retain confidentiality
  • Refer clients to other queer*-positive resources (such as the local AIDS organization, sexual health centre, or OUTSaskatoon)
  • Show interest and take initiative in seeking out information around queer topics
  • Refer queer* clients to other queer-supportive caregivers
  • Check-in with the client before documenting their sexual orientation and/or gender identity on their charts and in their file
  • Ask your queer* patients for their feedback on the quality of care they experienced in your workplace
  • After working to ensure that your workplace is a positive space for queer* individuals, you can ask to have your office added to a directory of queer-positive caregivers (as found at OUTSaskatoon)
  • Advertise your workplace in local queer or queer-positive magazines and publications  
  • Examine your own degree of comfort and willingness to learn about sexual and gender diversity;  use that as a baseline for making a plan to become a more accepting caregiver and to build a more positive environment

 

 Benefits of being openly supportive of LGBTQ* people:

  • Improved and informed care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two spirit, intersex, and queer people
  • Signals to others in your field that your office is knowledgeable about the health risks, essential treatments, and prevention information relevant to the queer* community
  • Demonstrates that your office addresses all forms of inequality between those in positions of power and authority (often medical professionals) and those who are not (they clients that they care for)
  • Offices that have an open and welcoming atmosphere regarding sexual orientation and gender identity let all patients, regardless of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, know that they are in an environment in which progressive and difficult issues can be discussed

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