Stigmas distance the LGBTQ+ community from health services

Access to health services for the LGBTQ+ community is one of the many pending for this population that has been continuously discriminated against and made invisible. In Mexico, there are at least 2,700,000 people, approximately 3% of the national population according to the 2017 National Survey on Discrimination; however, the figure could be higher, as many people do not openly identify themselves as part of the community.

Regarding the importance of the perspective of diversity and inclusion in health services, Adaliz Chavero, director of Government Relations of Gilead Mexico, and Francisco Robledo, director of ADIL, Diversity and Labor Inclusion, through the Mexican Association of Industries of Pharmaceutical Research (AMIIF), share that although it is true that many health institutions are concerned about these issues, it is one thing to have a very general policy of non-discrimination for any type of person, and another to have the focus on providing care to the LGBTQ+ community (acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer, with a plus sign added at the end to include groups not included in those acronyms).

Chavero explains that it is about carrying out effective actions that allow the health professional, be it a treating physician, nurse, social worker or any other person who works within a health institution, to be aware of dignified, fair and equitable treatment, removing the stigmas and labels that are often the ones that further distance people from health services.

“You can offer that person a first class hospital, the best doctor, the best pharmaceutical alternatives, but it can happen that that person feels emotionally bad because they are not receiving decent treatment. That may be a reason for him to drop out of treatment” or not come to care.

The first pending, face discrimination and prejudice

Robledo shares that there is much to do. The disparities start from being able to have access to a health service provider who is truly an inclusive person, who does not judge by gender expression, and with whom one can freely talk about sexual practices.

“When it comes to public institutions, it happens that from the one who receives you at the door there is a judgment”, he assures that stigmas weigh on gay men and HIV, for example, or lesbian women who want to be mothers, people with a vulva who seek access to gynecological services and who simply believe that they use their female sexual organs under the same standards as the rest of heterosexual women, or trans people, who require access to endocrinological guidance, psychological support, but that for the majority Of the medical staff, it is unknown how to attend to the different transitions, phases and moments that a person goes through.

The diversity specialist assures that in the health sector the first bases are just being touched, he said that in Mexico there has been an important advance in non-discrimination laws. “There is the National Council to Prevent Discrimination and the National Human Rights Commission. Society is advancing, we are becoming more and more visible and we know that we have the right to non-discrimination.”

But he said that in health issues, it is necessary to precisely recognize that today there are external organizations that have already traveled a path and are the ones that can really certify or accredit whether an institution or a company is truly doing what is necessary to be able to promote actions that allow improving community care, either through awareness programs, promoting non-discrimination, safe spaces, dignified treatment, not only towards the staff who work there, but also to the people who come to receive care.

Understanding sexuality for health care

Robledo emphasizes that we have managed to put the conversation on the table, but the binary perspective is not even close to being overcome. To overcome it we must understand that sexuality has several dimensions. One dimension is that of sex, the biological characteristics on the basis of which people are classified as male or female at birth. In the middle of these two extremes is intersexuality, a very broad and little understood spectrum of anatomical, genetic, hormonal or physiological combinations. Today there are 126 ways of being intersex identified.

Then, as we grow and socialize, ways of dressing, personal grooming, mannerisms, ways of behaving, of socializing with different people of the same or different genders begin to be imposed on us, which, together with the expectations and stereotypes of social roles, make up gender expression, which is the second dimension.

In all that time we also discover that we have an attraction or affinity towards other people. In the erotic-affective field, we speak of sexual orientations, the third dimension. Orientation is the moment in which we discover how our body works and our attraction to other people, or even recognize that there is a lack of it.

Today it is known that sexual orientations are a spectrum, even among heterosexual people there are variants of heterosexuality. The taboos around how you publicly relate to another person from an erotic-affective point of view continue to be the most important issue of discrimination in people: we are labeled and judged by who we love.

The fourth dimension is gender identity and is the sum of the previous ones. “It is time to ask yourself, who am I? Am I that man, am I that woman, am I that non-binary person? Identity can go against scientific stereotypes that say that because you have your genitals you are a man and that is how men should be. Today there are just over 15 countries that legally recognize the third gender, the non-binary gender, as a valid legal identification. The specialist concludes that we are heading there, not only to recognize a third gender, but also to eventually eliminate the male-female classification based on genitalia, to label a person and classify them from birth.

First LGBTQI+ Comprehensive Health Meeting

Objectives: learn more about this topic and continue raising awareness of the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as raise awareness of non-discrimination and health

Organizes: Mexican Association of Care and Support for Vulnerable Groups

From August 12 to 14, in person at the Hotel Fiesta Americana Reforma Mexico City and online through its Ensain platform.

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