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Individuals who served on the Health and Public Policy Committee from initiation of the project until its approval and authored this position paper are Thomas G. These disparities experienced by LGBT persons may be compounded if they are also part of a racial or ethnic minority (1). Although great strides have been taken in reducing health disparities in the LGBT community, much more needs to be done to achieve equity for LGBT persons in the health care system.The American College of Physicians recommends that gender identity, independent and fundamentally different from sexual orientation, be included as part of nondiscrimination and antiharassment policies.The College encourages medical schools, hospitals, physicians' offices, and other medical facilities to adopt gender identity as part of their nondiscrimination and antiharassment policies.2.
Same-sex marriage bans may cause psychological distress (5), prohibitive hospital visitation policies may prevent a same-sex parent from seeing a minor while the child is ill or participating in medical decision making for the child, and exclusions on transgender health care in private and public health plans may cause a transgender patient to seek treatment options through illegal channels (6).
The American College of Physicians supports civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.
The denial of such rights can have a negative impact on the physical and mental health of these persons and contribute to ongoing stigma and discrimination for LGBT persons and their families.6.
Training future physicians to be culturally and clinically competent in LGBT health care, working with practicing physicians to increase their understanding of the LGBT population and their health needs, advocating for practical health policies supported by empirical research, and working to eliminate laws that discriminate against the LGBT community and their families are all important steps to reducing and ultimately eliminating the health disparities experienced by the LGBT community.
The LGBT community is a highly diverse and multifaceted group of persons encompassing all cultures, ethnicities, and walks of life.
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These laws and policies, along with others that reinforce marginalization, discrimination, social stigma, or rejection of LGBT persons by their families or communities or that simply keep LGBT persons from accessing health care, have been associated with increased rates of anxiety, suicide, and substance or alcohol abuse (7).