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Do Ask, Do Tell

Talking to your healthcare provider about being LGBTQIA+ is an important part in taking control of your health.

Coming out to your provider

Coming out to your healthcare provider is an important step to being healthy. Research shows LGBTQIA+ people often avoid seeking healthcare due to fear of discrimination, stigma and disrespect. We are committed to removing these barriers by providing an inclusive healthcare environment where your providers:

  • Can offer care that is personalized and most relevant to you.
  • Can give you referrals to other LGBTQIA+ affirming providers, including specialists.
  • Are knowledgeable of health trends that may disproportionately affect LGBTQIA+ people.
  • Care about the whole person.

By being open with your providers, you allow them to provide you with comprehensive care.

Behavioral and Physical Health

LGBTQIA+ people often experience prejudice, stereotyping, and harassment or bullying by others. This kind of discrimination can be very stressful, which can put you at risk for depression, anxiety, substance abuse, feelings of loneliness, and even suicide. Being open not only about your sexual orientation and gender identity, but also about any substance use or mental health needs, allows your provider to give you the best possible care.

Exercise and healthy eating are important components of wellness for everyone. Physical health plays an important role in feeling emotionally healthy, too! Research has shown that LGBTQIA+ people are more likely to smoke, lesbians are at higher risk for obesity, and some gay men struggle with poor body image. If you discuss these issues with your healthcare providers, they can advise you on healthy diets and self-image, smoking cessation, and exercise routines.

Lesbians, bisexual women and some transgender people should also make sure they are getting routine gynecologic screenings, including Pap smears and routine breast cancer screening.

Sexual & Reproductive Health

Talking to your provider about your sexual health isn’t easy. However, there are many benefits to discussing your sexual function and behaviors with a provider. Each person’s needs will differ, but some of the sexual health issues that may be important to discuss are:

  • Screening for STDs and HIV
  • Getting vaccinated for HPV and hepatitis A and B
  • Using condoms or other barrier methods
  • Safer sex education and counseling
  • Problems with sexual function or satisfaction
  • Plans to adopt or conceive children
  • All LGBTQIA+ people should feel comfortable talking to providers about family issues, such as partner abuse (feeling safe at home), and living wills.

Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t want anyone besides my provider to know that I’m gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender. Will this information be shared?

If this information is entered into your medical record it will be protected, and any sharing of that information will be limited to permissible disclosures under HIPAA, such as healthcare workers involved in your medical care. If you are under 18, these laws will vary by state and policies may vary by medical practice. 

What if my provider uses the wrong terms or pronouns when referring to me or my spouse/partner?

Providers may not always know what terms you prefer to use. Let them know how you describe yourself and your partner(s), and they should start to use those words.

What if I still don’t feel comfortable coming out to my current provider?

There are several ways to find a provider you connect with. Finding a provider you are comfortable with is essential to your all-around health and wellness. To start with, you can talk to friends.