Employee & Community Health

LGBTQI patients: Help your provider get to know you

9/22/2016 by Dr. Denise Dupras and Dr. John Knudsen

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Mayo Clinic is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming health care environment for LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex) patients and their families who seek medical care from any Mayo Clinic facility. 

While sex is determined at birth, many other factors contribute to how we feel about ourselves. If we see ourselves as being more female or male, this often is referred to as gender identity. Our identity may be expressed by how we dress and act. Another aspect of our sexuality is who we are attracted to, whether it is a man or a woman. 

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So - how can you help your health care provider get to know you better so that he or she can provide the best possible care, including preventive services? Whether you are seeing a care provider for the first time or after many visits, it can be difficult to discuss issues surrounding how you see yourself if your assigned sex and gender identity are not the same, as well as your sexual attraction/activity. 

Here are a few tips for getting started: 

  • Your discussions are confidential and protected by law, so you can feel safe disclosing sensitive information. 
  • Your provider may not know how you want to be addressed, whether it's the name or pronoun you prefer, and the same is true for your partner or anyone accompanying you to a visit. It's okay to correct your provider. The awkward moment will pass. 
  • Remember that providing this information allows your care team to personalize the recommendations for the most-appropriate care to ensure your health and well-being. 

The Fenway Institute provides a free resource, called Do ask, do tell, which may be useful when talking with your care team. 

Dr. Denise Dupras is a general internist in Employee and Community Health's Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine. She completed her MD-PhD at Mayo Medical School and her residency in Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic Rochester. Her interests include medical education, evidence-based medicine and care of LGBTQI patients. 

Dr. John Knudsen is the medical director for the Mayo Clinic Office of Health Equity and Inclusion. He has a special interest in promoting LGBTQI health. He has spoken at Mayo Clinic programs, national meetings and participated in webinars addressing health disparities in the LGBTQI population.