If you are a trained medical professional; be it nurse, A&E doctor, physiotherapist, occupational health staff, midwife, general practitioner, paramedic, cancer nurse, dentist or anyone who has trained to care for people’s physical and mental health, you will come across patients, or colleagues who identify as LGBT+. Some patients may bring their same sex partner into an appointment, or tell you in confidence. Some will be afraid of how you’ll react or be angry with you, especially if they see you as someone in authority that could stop them accessing the care that they hope for. Some may choose to refuse medical treatment because they are scared that you won’t treat them with dignity and keep their information confidential.
Some things to consider:
- As a GP, you are a patient’s only route through to a patient being referred to a gender clinic. Waiting lists after referral to an initial appointment at a clinic are currently well over a year.
- Two ladies arriving at your pregnancy class may be married and having the baby together.
- If you work in sexual health, Men who have Sex with Men will probably not come to you for advice, HIV testing and condoms. Many will define themselves as straight.
- A client who is genderfluid may ask for their pronoun to be changed to Mx on their official records.
- Trans* women may need prostate exams and may need to be checked for testicular cancer. Trans* men may need to have regular scans for breast cancer.
- Your Practice Receptionist may consecutively date men and women, and ask you for relationship advice.
- Your paramedic colleague may be getting divorced from their heterosexual spouse so they can begin a same sex relationship.
- Someone who is non-gender binary may ask to be located in a private room, rather than a bed on a gendered ward.
- A 15 year old male patient may come out to you, and say that you’re the first person that they’ve told. They’re scared of what their parents will say.
- An elderly patient being visited by occupational health in their own home may hide all photographs of them and their deceased same sex civil partner before you arrive.
- A Trans* patient in A&E may feel more comfortable in being assessed and treated by a nurse who is the same gender they identify with. They may be too afraid or embarrassed to openly ask for this. Their legal name may not be the one they prefer you to use.
Don’t forget that we’re right here to answer any questions that you may have about anything LGBT+. We understand that time is precious for you, you are welcome to e-mail, phone or come and see us, whether it’s a single question, to refer someone to our services, or to discuss LGBT+ awareness training for your staff. Just let us know what we can do to help.