Intersectionality in the LGBTQ community

Subject: Gender Studies
Type: Reflective Essay
Pages: 9
Word count: 2490
Topics: Feminism, Gender Identity, Health, Intersectionality, LGBT

The health care sector faces numerous challenges that influence the way people across all lifestyles access health care. It is evident that different factors play out regardingaccess that a person has to health care. Intersectionality incorporates interrelated elements that may affect access to proper and quality health care that a particular individual or groups of people have (Cronin & King, 2010). Some intersectionality factors include the location of an individual or a group of people, race, ethnicity, age and sexual orientation (Cronin & King, 2010). Other factors are religion, traditional beliefs and values, disabilities, education level, and financial status among others. Evidently, these factors come together and play out in health care giving some people full access to proper health care while denying others (Cronin & King, 2010). Ultimately, the effect of this denial puts the lives of those denied access to quality health care in jeopardy. It is critical to note that intersectionality is a wide field and hence, not everything can be exhausted in it. Nevertheless, this paper seeks to explore intersectionality as well as activism in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) community since it is one of the most affected groups when it comes to health care.

The LGBTQ community represents a group of people whose sexual orientation differs from the widely-accepted societal beliefs and expectations of what sexuality and sexual relations should be (Wagaman, 2014). Evidently, these people are stigmatized by a majority of individuals in the society owing to their sexual orientation. Moreover, they are also subjected to increased levels of hatred and segregation. Their lifestyle is always under scrutiny, and they are denied access to many things based on their sexuality. The most fundamental thing that is affected by their sexual preference is the level of access they have to health care (Cronin & King, 2010). The standard of homophobia in different societies is surprising and having to deal with this even in the hospitals is a challenge that people in the LGBTQ community continue to face. The worst part begins when the person is of color since they not only have to deal with homophobia but also racism. Sometimes they face these interchangeably with racism in the LGBTQ community and homophobia in their African-American communities (Makadon, 2008). Ultimately, the worst is when these are met at the same time.

Another example of intersectionality about the LGBTQ community is a disabled Muslim woman whose sexual preference goes against the societal rules of sexuality and the idealism of marriage. Such a Muslim woman will suffer intense discrimination which ultimately affects her desire and access level to proper health care. She will bediscriminated againstIslamophobia, homophobia, sexism, racism, and ableism. The prejudices that she faces ultimately end up hindering her physical access to the LGBT venues (Makadon, 2008). On another noteit may be possible for her to accessLGBTQ eventsphysicallybut may face not only Islamophobia but also racism from the white counterparts. Therefore, it is evident that through the utilization of intersectionality, people do not belong to one individual groupentirely but rather belong to either two or more. The feeling generated by this aspect can easily lead to depression, isolation and other mental health issues. As seen before, people do not belong to only one group within the society but belong to several depending on the various factors that affect and surroundthem. People in the LGBTQ community have continually experienced different measures of exclusion as well as erasure in the society. The evidence of these exclusion measures lies in the way they are provided with critical services such as health care. The community depending on the level of ignorance segregates and denies these people their rights to receive quality health care (Giwa&Greensmith, 2012). The intersectionality that happens when issues of racism are added to their plates among other matters continually increases the level of hardship that they experience concerning their access to health care.

The hardships that these people experience end up creating an environment that is unsafe for these people since their needs cannot be met. Hence, the risks they face regarding health continue to increase and put their lives in danger. Moreover, they also put the lives of those around them at risk depending on their ailments (Makadon, 2008). Evidently, their families, friends, and loved ones may end up suffering the loss of their loved ones when something could have been done about it. For example, if the person received proper medical care before their health deteriorated, then they would be doing okay. Moreover, incidents such as death and other losses that come with health deterioration would not occur. The other issue that their families, friends and loved ones experience is the increased medical bills that they end up paying since delaying medical care increases the deterioration rate. When treated early, they tend to decrease the chances of them incurring huge medical bills unlike when the person is taken care of in the later stages of their sickness (Giwa&Greensmith, 2012). The other factor that affects their health care access is their age as well as geographical positioning. The level of segregation and stigmatization differs in different places and limits the access that the people in the LGBTQ community have to health care. Some places have access to the various LGBTQ venues that offer assistance tothose in the community in different spectrums of their lives, more so, in health care. Different organizations have understood the suffering and the plight of those in the LGBTQ community (Giwa&Greensmith, 2012). Therefore, they have sought to help them through collaborating with different health care organizations to offer inclusion and reduce thechallenges in the health care system (Makadon, 2008). The intersectional work that these organizations do aim at making the members of the LGBTQto be part of the community. Hence, they have the society respect their identity and not use this status to deny them of their essentials and well-deserved services. It is evident that with the lack of proper services, the group faces increasingly worse health care outcomes.

As seen, the access to proper and quality healthcare of those in the LGBTQ community as well as in other groups is influenced by different sets of social inequalities. Also, they are influenced by their socio-economic position. Moreover, their immigration status and race/ethnic group is also beneficial. The evidence of these disparities that the LGBT community faces is over. Those with different sexual preferences are pervasively marginalized in society, and this influences their health status (Makadon, 2008). For example, marginalization creates despair, depression, and other mental issues that emanate from segregation, seclusion, and stigmatization. The society does not consider this group as part of them and hence, the amount of recognition of the things they suffer from and the health challenges they face is little in comparison to other groups. It is important to note that this group faces unique health needs and challengescontrary to popular belief. This marginalized group continues to face discrimination that affects thequality ofhealth. The team faces different marginalization stresses that affect them. Some of these include the lack of proper access to health care services, discrimination in the educational spectrum, discrimination in employment as well as housing. Many of those in the LGBTQ community live in poverty, and hence, this further worsens their situation since even if quality health care is provided for this group, they will still face difficulties in accessing medical care (Makadon, 2008). Moreover, many in this group suffer not only mental conditions but also other issues that range from chronic diseases to substance abuse. Therefore,their health problems do not only surround mental health concerns but also the lack of access to rehabilitation facilities.As such, they are unable to acquire the necessary assistance to overcome the substance abuse problem.

It is significant to note that many differences exist within the LGBTQ community. Their variationin the community based on the different factors of intersectionality makes them explicitly different and this, as seen, is something that the society does not accommodate. As mentioned before, age significantly influences the access that one has to health care and hence, in this case, many people in the LGBTQ community suffer (Giwa&Greensmith, 2012). For example, bisexual youths who are still wrestling with the idea of coming out have entirely different health challenges and needs that require attention in comparison to adult gay men who have already come out and are facing an entirely different issue. One of the issues that older gay men and lesbians face is the inability to find the right grief as well as counseling services that would help them deal with their life issues and problems that they are facing. Moreover, it is evident that development follows different courses for people of all ages. Therefore, those in their 50s may not have the same developmental process experiences as those in their early youths or their teenage years (Poteat et al. 2011). Moreover, many youths in their early years mostly identify as queer and hence, their health issues differ from those who identify as gay, lesbian, or even transgender and bisexuals. Also, it is vital to note that experiences in life vary from one person to the next, more so, depending on when that a person was born. As such, this creates a diverse group that needs different sets of health care services (Poteat et al. 2011). Race and ethnicity impact the way that this team receives medical services. It is evident that the society is still bound in the traditional concepts and roles of gender. Moreover, the society still holds a certain level of religiosity and cultural essence that hinders them from accepting the values, beliefs, and endearing of the members of the LGBTQ community (Wagaman, 2014). Race and ethnicity affect one’s identification, the type, and availability of support that one has, the coming out process as well as one’s gender variance affirmation and one’s extent of identifying with the LGBTQ community (Poteat et al. 2011). These and more factors associated with race and ethnicity influence the health outcomes of these people. For example, LGBTQ persons of minority racial or ethnic groups have profoundly different experiences as compared to those who come from majority groups, more so, non-Hispanic white LGBTQ persons.

On the other hand, the health outcomes of the older people in this community depend on the level of their social relationships. The relationships method theory focuses on how social relationships affect the health outcomes of older individuals in the society. The theory offers to understand on how social participation, social support, and social networks intertwine together to heighten the life expectancy of aged persons. The theory further suggests that older individuals who lack social relationships or indulge in them lesser than expected have decreased life expectancies. In the LGBTQ community, the level of segregation from social relationships is higher. Hence, older people in this community have decreased life expectancies due to this. It is important to note that the elderly in the LGBTQ community has always been an invisible population.

However, in spite of the segregation, discrimination, victimization and the psychological distress that individuals within the LGBTQ community undergo, what is evidently resilient in the community is the sense of belonging. This aspect has helped the elderly individuals to feel as part of something larger than their selves. Ultimately, this helps them through their health outcomes and gives them an opportunity to view life differently. One example of this is where a seventy-year old participant in a study said “In spite of some of the hassles I have had in my life because I am gay, I consider being gay a gift. It has made my life richer and opened so much of the world for me. Of course, if I had it to do over again, there are some things I would have done differently but being gay isn’t one of them” (Foglia & Fredriksen‐Goldsen, 2014, p. S41). This shows that the great sense of belonging in the LGBTQ community has enriched his life. Therefore, he has a more positive life because of the LGBTQ network and community.

Another contributing factor in intersectionality is the level of education as well as the socioeconomic status of an individual in this community (Poteat et al. 2011). It is evident that human experiences vary more so under different life contexts. Persons with higher levels of education tend to have higher income levels, and hence, this enables them to live in better neighborhoods. Moreover, this allows them to have better access to quality and proper health care services and thus, they have a greater opportunity to lead better and healthy lives. On the other hand, those with lower levels of education lack the proper financial status that could assist them to live better lives (Wagaman, 2014). These people experience many barriers in accessing adequate and quality health care services and hence, their clinical outcomes are mostly negative. Finally, the other factor is geographic location. This, as mentioned before, has a significant effect on the physical and mental health outcomes for individuals in the LGBTQ community (Wagaman, 2014). Those in the urban areas feel more comfortable coming out as compared to those in the countryside. The reason behind this is that, in the urban places, these individuals have a good support as compared to those in the rural areas, who may face intense levels of stigmatization and rejection from friends and families. Moreover, those in the rural places lack proper access to health care providers.Hence, they cannot receive appropriate medical services by their needs. It is important to note that intersectionality goes hand in hand with the activism theory, whose main focus is to ensure that learning occurs (Osweiler). According to the theory, learning occurs in social environments that harbor collaborative activities. Hence, in this case, the community will begin to accept and integrate the needs of the LBGTQ community only if activism is involved. Through collaboration, the LGBTQ community will not face intersectionality issues that continually affect them on a daily basis.

In conclusion, numerous factors play part in shaping perception and quality service delivery in health care. These factors work together and they include age and race as well as age and sexuality among others. As such, it is critical to ensure that barriers to health care access are reduced from a holistic perspective to make sure that the affected people have proper access to quality health care. It is further evident that the LGBTQ community has continually faced challenges that affect their access levels to quality health care services. Moreover, they lack people within the health care sector who can understand their problems without judging. Hence, they have only a few professional people to provide proper medical care. It is important to ensure that these individuals receive safe and quality health care services just as others do. Therefore, initiatives should be taken to ensure that the barriers, needs, and challenges that this group faces are met effectively and efficiently to better their health outcomes.

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  2. Foglia, M. B., & Fredriksen-Goldsen, K. I. (2014). Health Disparities among LGBT Older Adults and the Role of Nonconscious Bias. The Hastings Center Report, 44(0 4), S40–S44.
  3. Giwa, S., &Greensmith, C. (2012). Race relations and racism in the LGBTQ community of Toronto: Perceptions of gay and queer social service providers of color. Journal of Homosexuality, 59(2), 149-185.
  4. Makadon, H. J. (2008). The Fenway guide to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender health. ACP Press.
  5. Osweiler, R. (n.d). The activism theory.
  6. Poteat, V. P., Mereish, E. H., DiGiovanni, C. D., & Koenig, B. W. (2011). The effects of general and homophobic victimization on adolescents’ psychosocial and educational concerns: the importance of intersecting identities and parent support. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58(4), 597.
  7. Wagaman, M. A. (2014). Understanding service experiences of LGBTQ young people through an intersectional lens. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 26(1), 111-145.
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