Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender queer or gender non-conforming people might face specific health concerns related to their gender incongruence, sexual orientation, practices and social stigma.

LGBTQ people are at higher risk of anxiety and depression. Gay men are more likely to experience body image issues and eating disorders than are their straight counterparts. While domestic violence can affect anyone in an intimate relationship, gay men and lesbian women might be more likely to stay quiet about this kind of violence due to fear of discrimination.

Transgender people face many health concerns due to minority stress, which involves social stigma, discrimination and the internalization of social stigma. As a result, transgender people are at risk of emotional and psychological abuse, physical and sexual violence, sexually transmitted infections, substance misuse, and mental health problems.

If you're a transgender person, counseling, hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgery can help treat distress due to a difference between experienced or expressed gender and sex assigned at birth (gender dysphoria). Educate yourself about the options, the preparation required, the risks and complications, and the follow-up medical care and procedures. If you have a child who is gender-nonconforming or transgender, talk to your child and show support. By allowing your child to demonstrate preferences and share them, you'll encourage a positive sense of self and keep the lines of communication open.

If you or your child is LGBTQ, look for a doctor who is empathetic and respectful of your specific needs. By doing so, the doctor can help identify ways to reduce the risk of health concerns, as well as identify medical conditions and refer you to specialists when necessary.

March 16, 2018