Open Accessibility Menu

How to Talk with your Doctor about Your LGBTQ+ Identity

  • Category: LGBTQ+
  • Posted on:
How to Talk with your Doctor about Your LGBTQ+ Identity

Coming out—no matter who you’re coming out to—can be a difficult and uncomfortable conversation to navigate. It can be so difficult that some LGBTQ+ people might even avoid coming out to their doctors or other healthcare professionals. However, it’s extremely important that your care providers know all the information that could affect your health and wellbeing, including your sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Here, we’ll help you with several tips for informing your doctor about your LGBTQ+ identity. But first, let’s start with the why.

Why should you come out to your doctor?

  • You’ll get more personalized care. Doctors know that LGBTQ+ people experience certain health disparities linked to bias, stigma, and unequal access to care and resources. For example, transgender women are 49x more likely to get HIV than the general population.[i] LGBTQ+ people assigned female at birth may also be at greater risk for breast, cervical, and ovarian cancers compared to heterosexual cisgender women.[ii] Knowing your identity will signal a doctor to conduct necessary screenings and tests linked to those health disparities.
  • Your doctor can make informed recommendations for prescriptions and resources. Because gay and bisexual men are the most HIV-affected population in the United States,[iii] LGBTQ+ patients may need access to physical health medications like PrEP. Transgender patients may wish to begin gender-affirming hormone therapy or speak to a specialist about gender affirming surgery. But LGBTQ+ may also require behavioral health medications or resources due to higher rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse. In order for your doctor to recommend the necessary prescriptions or to connect you with LGBTQ-friendly physicians and resources, they’ll need to know your unique risks and needs.
  • You’ll help to normalize these necessary discussions. Once you’ve discussed your LGBTQ+ identity with your doctor, you should start to feel more confident and empowered in protecting your health. But you won’t be the only one whose confidence will improve. The more your doctor talks about LGBTQ+ identities—and the more they understand about your experiences—the more they’ll build their own cultural competency. When they meet other LGBTQ+ patients, they’ll have an even stronger framework for creating a comfortable and welcoming environment. In a nutshell: when you take care of yourself, you’re also taking care of your community.

Tips for communicating your LGBTQ Identity with Your Doctor

  • State your identity as a simple matter of fact. Conversations about your LGBTQ+ identity don’t have to be any different from conversations about other aspects of your life. In fact, they don’t have to be full conversations at all. Feel free to state your identity along with other basic introductory information. When meeting a new doctor, you might say: “My name is ___. I’m from ___. I identify as gay/lesbian/trans/nonbinary and my pronouns are ___. Today, I’d like to talk about ___.”
  • Lead into the conversation with a question. Your doctor is there to help you, so feel free to guide them to the discussion if you are unsure how to bring up your LGBTQ+ identity. If you aren’t comfortable with making a declarative statement about your gender or sexuality, you can lead into the conversation by asking your doctor a question like, “Do you have experience working with gay/transgender/nonbinary patients?” or, “What health risks should gay/transgender/nonbinary people be aware of?” Approaching the topic peripherally can prompt your doctor to respectfully inquire about your identity so you don’t have to bring it up alone. It can also help you to feel more comfortable in having direct conversations later.
  • Bring your partner. Some people may choose to bring a companion for important health meetings. Arriving with your partner and introducing them as such is one of the easiest ways to convey your LGBTQ+ identity to a provider. This won’t answer all the questions your doctor might need to know, such as your status as a transgender or nonbinary person. However, your partner’s presence should serve as a natural segue into these discussions so your doctor can make recommendations based on your body, identity, and needs.

Whichever method you use for approaching the topic of your LGBTQ+ identity with a provider, you should always keep in mind that it’s important to feel comfortable with your doctor. Don’t be afraid to meet with a few different providers before deciding who you feel most comfortable communicating with.

At LCMC, we pride ourselves on providing LGBTQ+ people with the highest quality of care and compassion across all practices and specialties. If you’re ready to meet with a new provider, search our directory here.