One of the keys to good healthcare is being open with your healthcare provider. Doctors, nurses, physician assistants, psychotherapists and other professionals treating you need to know about your sexual orientation and gender identity to give the best care possible. Yet surveys consistently show that many lesbian, gay and bisexual patients aren’t open about their sexual orientation with healthcare providers. The types of things you should be able to discuss with you healthcare provider:

  • Relationship Stress
  • Recreational Activities (e.g. partying, alcohol use, drug use, etc.)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender Identity
  • Things about your body that concern you
  • Anything you feel is important…Your provider should know the real you.

Tips for finding and being open with healthcare providers:

  • Ask for referrals. Ask friends or local LGBT centers for the names of LGBT-friendly healthcare providers. You can also check the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association’s Healthcare Provider Directory.
  • Inquire by phone. When you call to make an appointment, ask if the practice has any LGBT patients. If you’re nervous about asking, remember you don’t have to give your name during that initial call.
  • Bring a friend. If you’re uneasy about being open with your healthcare provider, consider asking a trusted friend to come with you.
  • Bring it up when you feel most comfortable. Ask your doctor for a few minutes to chat while you’re still fully clothed – maybe even before you’re in the exam room.
  • Know what to ask. Learn about the specific healthcare issues facing LGBT people.

Adapted from the Human Rights Coalition’s Coming Out to Your Doctor section: http://www.hrc.org/issues/3391.htm