One-third of LGBTQ Southerners face discrimination in healthcare

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A landmark study from an Atlanta-based center shows that transgender people in the South reported nearly twice as much discrimination as lesbian, gay or bisexual people.

It’s one of many findings in the inaugural Southern Survey, a study detailing the life experiences of LGBTQ Southerners conducted by the LGBTQ Institute at the Center for Civil & Human Rights in Atlanta.

Tracee McDaniel, an advisory board member at the LGBTQ Institute, said the study was a group effort.

“This is a study of, by, and for southern LGBTQ people, with the support of many community and grassroots organizations and individuals,” McDaniel said in a press release. “The goal of this research is to amplify the voices of LGBTQ Southerners and highlight the issues affecting our lives, in order to create a more safe and welcoming South.”

The LGBTQ Institute, with research partner Georgia State University, worked with about 150 non-profit organizations across the South to gather responses from more than 6,500 people.

A broad range of topics was covered including education and employment, health and wellness, criminal justice and safety, sexual and gender diversity, and discrimination.

Among the other key findings:

  • Thirty-three percent of respondents reported being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity when trying to access healthcare services, with nearly half choosing to avoid treatment altogether.
  • Transgender people were twice as likely to be discriminated against by healthcare providers as cisgender people were.
  • LGBTQ Southerners are politically active. Ninety-three percent of respondents were registered to vote. Ninety percent voted in the 2016 election. Nearly 60 percent identified as Democrat and over 80 percent identified as liberal or very liberal. Over 95 percent reported being dissatisfied with the Trump administration.
  • The most common forms of discrimination for LGBTQ people in the South were being subjected to slurs and jokes, rejection by friends and family, places of worship and receiving poor service at places of business.
  • Passing LGBTQ employment nondiscrimination laws was seen as the most important policy issue for LGBTQ southerners.

Ryan Roemerman, executive director of the LGBTQ Institute, said the study provides critical information to agencies and state and local governments.

“Our hope is that this research can serve as an important resource that can help LGBTQ people tell their stories, reframe narratives and dismantle discriminatory systems,” Roemerman said in a press release. “We also hope this data helps our partners on the ground as they develop their policy initiatives, fundraising campaigns and grassroots strategies.”


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