While the month of June is always a great time to celebrate this community’s diversity of identities, it’s a stark reminder that no matter how you identify, accessing appropriate health care can be difficult and daunting for LGBTQ+ patients.
When patients feel validated and comfortable approaching a provider with a health problem, health outcomes are undoubtedly better. But there’s a historic discrepancy in the trust between the LGBTQ+ community and health care providers that we need to continue to break down.
The National Kidney Foundation points to several factors that contribute to the LGBTQ+ community’s disproportionate rate of kidney disease: Fear of discrimination and judgement, high cost, denial of care, job loss, harassment, and an unwillingness to share family history can come between a patient and a positive health outcome.
Of course, these are common barriers to health care for all LGBTQ+ patients, not just those within the kidney community. But when a patient faces a serious diagnosis like end stage renal disease, which involves committed caregivers and a team of qualified medical professionals, it is essential that affirming care be prioritized.
Fortunately, there are several ways that kidney care providers can make patients feel validated and welcomed during their treatment. The Northwest Kidney Council encourages all providers to:
Use affirming language when talking with patients,
Diversify and include LGBTQ+ patients in clinical environments and research, and
Advocate for nondiscrimination policies that call out sexual orientation and gender identity.
Part of the Northwest Kidney Council’s mission is to ensure treatment is accessible to all, regardless of their race, gender identity, income level or whether they live in a city or rural town. So, happy Pride Month, kidney community – amidst the celebrations, let’s recommit to advocating for more inclusive health care spaces.