The stress of being part of a sexual minority group is manifest daily in the experiences of LGBTQ people. Unfortunately, LGBT people do not always connect the dots between the effects of chronic minority stress and the real life problems of addiction, substance abuse, relationship conflict or depression to name a few. Of course there are other contributing factors to the development of these problems in any given person's life. But recognition of the impact of chronic minority stress is important for both members of the community and health care providers in order to remove the barriers to accessing care that is LGBT affirming and informed.
According the the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans women face an increased rate of health problems and barriers to health care. Many of these increased risks can be traced to the stressors and circumstances associated with being part of a minority subgroup, discrimination and barriers to equality.
Prop 8 and Minority Stress
The recent drama of Prop 8 and its' psychological impact on the health of the LGBT community has been documented in studies recently published. Results indicate that campaigns of this nature inflict direct messages of oppression, rejection and negative stereotyping to cause significant psychological stress which is unrelated to pre-existing factors and conditions. In states with anti-LGBT measures on the ballot, LGBT residents experienced a kind of harassment and bullying through the campaign messages. The results? Increased stress, anxiety and sometimes fear of violence. Stress has a tremendous impact on physical and mental health.
Three barriers to health for sexual minorities include:
- higher rates of smoking,
- substance abuse, and
- lower access to health care with LGBT informed and affirming health care providers.
LBT women are 200% more likely to smoke than their non LBT counterparts. LBT women are also documented as being more likely to abuse substances. If you need help to deal with a habit that's becoming a problem or an addiction, community recovery is key.
You can find LBT friendly meetings at : Long Beach Meetings
. LBT women can also find recovery resources and welllness support in a Lesbian affirming environment at your local Gay and lesbian Center. Visit the Center Long Beach
and The Center OC
for meeting information.
Low Cost Health Care Options
One of the barriers that LBT women face in finding a Doctor they trust and will see regularly is access to health care. LBT women are uninsured at a 5-10% higher rate than the general population. This is due in part to the lack of equity in insurance benefits for domestic partners as opposed to married partners-an issue we are all well aware of.
If you are currently without health insurance, the Center Los Angeles
has a clinic that can help-with low cost services such as HIV testing, pregnancy prevention, and even insemination.
Find a LGBT Informed Doctor
When looking for a doctor, its vital to find someone you can be totally honest with regarding your sexual history and your current sexual status since HIV, STD's such as HPV are all risk factors for LBT women. Once you find an LBT doc you feel comfortable with-its important that you have an honest conversation about your sexual history and your risk factors-such as multiple partners, safe sex, and use of drugs. Your doctor can advise you about how to best protect your health; and keep you on a regular schedule of health screenings to promote early detection of any problems.
You can locate an LBT doctor, dentist, surgeon, ob-gyn, or other medical professional at the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Provider Page
. I'm currently compiling a Local Resource List for www.therapy4oclesbians.com
and I want to include listings of doctors who are lesbian informed and affirming. If you want to be included on this list or know a doctor you would recommend, please email me.
A website for the gay lesbian straight education network, with information about statewide events as well as local opportunites for education, advocacy and community for gay and straight allies.
The website for the gay and lesbian medical community-which offers a database for locating a provider, tips on how to talk with your provider about your sexual orientation, sexual history, gender status etc.
Researchers noted that supportive community and family helped to offset this stress, and that non-LGBT family members demonstrated similar stress responses to the campaigns. You can read all three studies here: