Embrace: Growing Disparities in the LGBTQIA+ Community

August 10, 2023

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We are highlighting the growing healthcare disparities the LGBTQIA+ community experience when seeking healthcare services, specifically breast cancer care. It’s important to first identify the individuals who are represented in the community as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual (Le and Billingsley, 2022). The LGBTQIA+ community is facing an increase in healthcare disparities as Evidation (2023) expanded on the identified disparities and reported that LBGTQIA+ individuals “are more likely to report negative provider experiences, including being blamed for health problems or having their concerns dismissed.” Focusing specifically on breast cancer diagnoses, BreastCancer.org reported that LGBTQIA+ individuals waited twice the time to receive a breast cancer diagnosis compared to cisgender heterosexual individuals. LGBTQIA+ individuals also had higher rates of recurrence at 32.2% compared to 13.3% of cisgender heterosexual people (DePolo, 2023). Further, there is a gap in breast health services as Living Beyond Breast Cancer stated transgender individuals “are significantly less likely to be screened for breast…cancer,” (2023). Individuals that identify as transgender are reported to have an increased risk of breast cancer due to hormone treatments that they may receive (DePolo, 2019). The contributing factors to these barriers, as defined by Going Beyond the Pink (n.d.), are discriminatory experiences, limited insurance coverage, refusal of care by providers, and discomfort when seeking medical services. There is further research needed to fully understand the experiences the LGBTQIA+ community is exposed to when receiving breast health services.

There are steps that have been taken, however, to raise awareness and decrease barriers. The Institute for Mental Health (NIH) is taking measures to mediate the barriers such as now recognizing sexual and gender minorities as a “health disparity population,” (2016). In recognizing a health disparity population, it will create more research opportunities to further understand the depth of the disparities and the impact they have. In addition, organizations are expanding support for the community such as the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation which is promoting the Healthcare Equality Index 2022 to ensure healthcare facilities are providing equitable care to LGBTQIA+ individuals and that their policies are inclusive of diverse needs. The Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation website also includes resources for LGBTQIA+ patients such as insurance coverage, healthcare rights, tips on how to talk to your doctor, and locating a provider that provides equitable services. An additional resource is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which compiled a list of LGBTQ+ health clinics by state and city that can be found on their website. If you have any questions or are in need of support, please reach out to socialwork@hereforthegirls.org.


Qualls, A. (n.d.) LGBTQ+ barriers to care. Going Beyond the Pink. Retrieved from: https://www.goingbeyondthepink.org/blog/lgbtq-barriers-cancercare?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIi76UgcyngAMVTe7ICh3FtA4SEAAYAiAAEgL8pPD_BwE

DePolo, J. (2023, February 8). LGBTQ people with breast cancer have delayed diagnoses, higher recurrence rates. BreastCancer.org. https://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/lgbtq-breast-cancer-disparities

DePolo, J. (2019, May 17). Feminizing hormones linked to higher breast cancer risk in trans women, but risk still lower than average woman’s. BreastCancer.org. https://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/feminizing-hormones-increase-risk-in-trans-women

Le, K. and Billingsley, A. (2022, October 19). What does the full lgbtqia+ acronym stand for? GoodRx Health. https://www.goodrx.com/health-topic/lgbtq/meaning-of-lgbtqia

N.A. (2023, June 1). LGBTQ+ with breast cancer. Living Beyond Breast Cancer. https://www.lbbc.org/lgbtq-plus

N.A. (2023). Health disparities in the lgbtqia2+ community. Evidation.

National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Coordination of sexual and gender minority mental health research at nimh. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/organization/od/odwd/coordination-of-sexual-and-gender-minority-mental-health-research-at-nimh#:~:text=In%202016%2C%20the%20NIH%20formally,populations%2C%20and%20underserved%20rural%20populations.

Qualls, A. (n.d.) LGBTQ+ barriers to care. Going Beyond the Pink. Retrieved from: https://www.goingbeyondthepink.org/blog/lgbtq-barriers-cancercare?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIi76UgcyngAMVTe7ICh3FtA4SEAAYAiAAEgL8pPD_BwE



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