Health care has always been an integral part of society. The policies and infrastructure regarding health care impact the country’s population tremendously. As our nation grows, so do our responsibilities. Despite it being complicated to implement, health care is a basic amenity in which everyone should be treated justly. A large population in India has only recently been granted this basic right.
Continuing to take steps in the right direction, one of the next steps should be to enhance this necessity for the LGBTQIA community.
This community has been affected more so due to social stigma, especially in areas of substance abuse, mental health disorders, suicide risk, and STDs.
The LGBTQIA community has always suffered the brunt of discrimination based on what’s ‘traditional’ or ‘acceptable’. This has predictably led to high stress, fear, depression, and isolation, which has caused them to seek solace in various substances. There is also a much higher suicide rate in the queer community; it is three times the rate for heterosexual individuals. There needs to be an improvement and specialization in the health care sector for the treatment for de-addiction and mental health problems for queer folks, because the circumstances, triggers, and experiences are often quite distinct from that of cishet individuals.
The community has a long-standing aversion to health care due to labelling, discrimination, and a lack of training on how to interact with queer patients. Respect and compassion are very much a part of the ideal healthcare experience.
While there has been an improvement in recent years, there needs to be more awareness and education about the different types of precautions and treatments they must undergo. For example; lesbians, statistically, are more likely to smoke cigarettes, remain nulliparous (have no kids), and are less likely to use oral contraceptives, having a higher probability of developing endometrial and breast cancer. Not only this but also constant checkups are required with a special focus on areas like understanding, prevention and treatment of STDs, and emergency measures in instances where contact with high-risk individuals has been made. Our perception of this community and our approach must be revised to improve their health care, lest we endanger lives that are just as sacred as cishet lives.
As a nation, we tend to look down on this community and force them to change according to our perception of ‘normal’. As allies, health care workers, co-workers, it’s our responsibility to understand a simple truth; queer folks are born this way.
Policies protecting the queer community, right from when they are children who need to be protected from conversion therapy till they are elderly and need assistance with healthcare, need to be drafted and implemented.
We look forward to a future knowing that change must and will come.
Written by Srivatsav Gadepalli for MTTN
Edited by Mihika Antonia Dean for MTTN
Featured Image by Maria Fabrizio (for NPR)
Artwork by www.queerlapis.com