LGBTQ+: The invisible poor on our healthcare


(Hush Naidoo, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Silvi Angelia May Purba, a third-year medical student in University of Riau Indonesia. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Let us have a example: We have a friend, and let’s call her as Jane. Jane is a smart, thriving, young woman in her way to pursue her future. Unlike the other days, she feels something wrong today. She cannot breath well, her chest heavy, dizzy, eyesight blurring.

Like every one of use, Jane natural instinct is to seek help from health professionals, like doctors. Everything goes smoothly, however in the meeting, her doctor suddenly refuses to continue their meeting nor giving any medical treatment. The reason is simple: they just know that Jane is a transgender woman.

In 2015, United States legalize same sex marriage in the. This legalization was later followed by other countries. This law is not only about the freedom of marriage, but also an act of legal recognition of LGBTQ+ in the community. This law gives power and hope to the community.

But most of us are not ready with these changes. 78 countries still recognize LGBTQ+ in as crimes. Even in the already legalized countries, a lot of people still abuse, humiliate, and publicly discriminate the LGBTQ+ individuals. Like Jane’s case, healthcare discrimination for LGBTQ+ is still common even in these days. Most of health professionals are not yet inclusive to LGBTQ+ individuals. Even when they’re inclusive to LGBTQ+, they possess limited knowledge and skill, thus their service is far from ideal.

LGBTQ+ individual encounters higher health threat compared to their heterosexual counterparts. By the exclusivism in health care, LGBTQ+ individuals are not only blocked from medication, but also from medical knowledge. It is possible that Jane is previously suffered from hypertension due to her estrogen therapy. It is also possible that Jane receive hormone therapy from non-health professional. Thus, Jane is also in danger of improper use of drugs. This condition will elevate her risk of other health complication, stress, and even encouragement to suicide attempts. All that could be prevented if Jane’s doctor is willing to give proper service to Jane.

All medical professional are agreed in this consensus: We pledged our life into humanity and we respect every living. This consensus also includes LGBTQ+ people. We must aware that in this current situation, Jane and billions others are in danger. We need changes, and the changes means now. Health practitioners should possess better attitude. Health services will not biased with individual, religion or cultural believe. Even if a service is against our believes, we should discuss and refer our patient, instead of judging and pointing them out. More workshops and lectures should be made. Health practitioners need concrete knowledge to assess their LGBTQ+ patients. We should be ready to assess the needs and condition of LGBTQ+ patients. By creating an inclusive health care, we also hope that we can also battles stigmas against LGBTQ+.

Now we are nothing, but together we can create the dignified and non-discriminatory health care, for the better future.


  1. Gahagan, J., & Subirana-Malaret, M. (2018). Improving pathways to primary health care among LGBTQ populations and health care providers: key findings from Nova Scotia, Canada. International journal for equity in health17(1), 76. doi:10.1186/s12939-018-0786-0
  2. Poteat, T., German, D., & Kerrigan, D. (2013) Managing uncertainty: A grounded theory of stigma in transgender health care encounters. Social Science & Medicine, 84

About the author

Silvi Angelia May Purba or widely known as Silvi is a third-year medical student in University of Riau. Silvi is a member of Center for Indonesian Medical Student Activities (CIMSA), in whom is affiliated with IFMSA. She is currently an Community Development Coordinator (CDC) for CIMSA Riau University. Silvi was born in Yogyakarta, 22 nd of May 1999. She is a the youngest of two in the family. Since a young age, she is always interested with literature and knowledge. Now she is an active article writer, focusing on health topics and raising awareness about them.



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