A new survey released Wednesday revealed that a high number of LGBTQ Southerners, especially transgender people, continue to struggle with their health and the quality of medical care they receive. Results from the 2019 Southern LGBTQ Health Survey, which collected responses from people across the gender, sexuality, race, income, and age spectrum, suggested that "LGBTQ-friendly health care exists in the South, but is not universally available."
Some 5,617 people across 13 southern states participated in the survey, which was conducted by the Campaign for Southern Equality and Western NC Community Health Services. According to the survey, transgender patients consistently reported poorer physical and mental health, feeling uncomfortable when seeking medical care, and receiving lower-quality care in general. The survey found 47.5% of transgender respondents also said they always or often have to educate their health care provider about LGBTQ identity, compared to 19% of cisgender participants.
Bisexual, pansexual, and queer participants reported far worse mental health experiences than gay, lesbian, and heterosexual respondents. According to the survey, 75%–80% of bisexual, pansexual, and queer respondents reported being diagnosed with or experiencing depression, and more than 40% of the same group of respondents said they experienced suicidal ideation.
Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, the executive director at Campaign for Southern Equality, told BuzzFeed News that though there is an increased focused on LGBTQ issues and health care across the country, "there’s been a real lack of research focused on the health experiences of LGBTQ Southerners." Beach-Ferrara said that many health care providers have religious affiliations, which in some cases means they can be "less likely to be LGBTQ-friendly or necessarily to be open to implementing LGBTQ-friendly practices." She also pointed to policies that have left members of the LGBTQ community vulnerable to discrimination.