LGBTQIA+ patients: Help your provider get to know you
9/30/2021 by Denise Dupras, M.D., Ph.D.
Mayo Clinic is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming health care environment for LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and Other) patients and their families who seek medical care.
While sex is determined at birth, many factors contribute to how people feel about themselves. Gender identity refers to how people see themselves, whether that is more female or male, or a combination of the two. Identity can be expressed by how people dress and act. Another aspect is sexuality; who people are attracted to; and whether that attraction is to a man, a woman, both or neither.
To provide the best possible care, including preventive services, it is important for your health care provider to know who you are. While it can be difficult to discuss issues surrounding your gender identity, sexual attraction and activity, this information is important for your provider to asses your health care risks and provide care that's individualized for you.
Here are a few tips to get 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 OK 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, "Do Ask, Do Tell," which may be useful when talking with your care team.
Denise Dupras, M.D., Ph.D., is a general internist in Community Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She completed her medical and doctoral degrees at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine and her residency in internal medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Her interests include medical education, evidence-based medicine and care of LGBTQIA+ patients.