Purpose: Sexual and gender minorities (SGMs) face a multitude of barriers, such as discrimination and inequity, when navigating the healthcare system. SGM individuals are underrepresented within the literature and their unique healthcare experiences and needs are not well understood. Additionally, intersectional identity is not frequently considered in the research. This study aims to fill the gap in the literature and expand upon the lived experiences of SGMs accessing healthcare. Methods: As a part of the IRB-approved Health of Sexual and Gender Minorities Study (HSGMS), eight 90-minute focus groups were facilitated via Zoom. Participants were recruited via Reddit and electronic informed consent was obtained. To participate, individuals had to be over the age of 18, identify as a sexual and/or gender minority, and live in the United States. Participants were divided into focus groups based on their sex assigned at birth, transgender status, and race/ethnicity. Focus groups were transcribed, deidentified, and coded by two independent researchers using Atlas.Ti. Results: Across all 8 focus groups, participants reported significant negative experiences when navigating the healthcare system. Common experiences included feeling that their concerns weren’t taken seriously, having assumptions made about their identity, having their identity pathologized, being deadnamed, being misgendered, and facing barriers when attempting to access affirming healthcare of any kind. Conclusion: These findings suggest a significant need for healthcare providers to receive training on providing affirming care to SGM patients, and for healthcare systems to implement policies and practices that support equitable access to healthcare for SGM individuals.
Samantha Rosenthal, PhD, MPH
OTD - Occupational Therapy Doctorate
Baker, Allyson; Swanberg, Jennifer; and Rosenthal, Samantha, "Transcending Boundaries: A Qualitative Exploration of Healthcare Experiences among Sexual and Gender Minorities" (2023). Student Research Design & Innovation Symposium. 29.