Many of us know all too well that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population experiences significant health disparities. Discrimination, violence, and prejudice on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity routinely prevent LGBT people from accessing jobs, relationship recognition, housing, insurance coverage, and health care, making it difficult for LGBT people and their families to achieve their highest attainable standard of health.
In its 2011 National Healthcare Disparities Report, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) at the Department of Health and Human Services has finally called out these disparities. AHRQ publishes this report every year to help policymakers understand and address the impact of racial, socioeconomic, and other differences on various populations.
The report focuses on priority populations such as racial and ethnic minorities, lower-income people, and people with disabilities—and, for the first time, it also includes the LGBT population as a priority population.
While the report discusses the disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS on gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, its strongest focus is on the disparities in health status and health care access that transgender people experience.
Drawing on data from Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the report emphasizes the enormous burden of discrimination, prejudice, and poor health that the transgender population bears.
According to the report, “transgender and gender non-conforming people bear the brunt of social and economic marginalization due to their gender identity…. Too often, policymakers, service providers, the media, and society at large have dismissed or discounted the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming people in their communities, and a paucity of hard data on the scope of antitransgender discrimination has hampered the struggle for basic fairness.”