The Meaning of Our Care

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Jane’s Friday Thoughts are a collection of entries on the state of modern maternity from OB-GYN and Maven Medical Director, Jane van Dis.

The word “care” is actually part of the word “healthcare,” but too often, it’s overlooked in favor of expediency. When healthcare providers don’t take the time to understand basic things about their patients--like their gender or sexuality--many patients feel unwelcome and uncared for, and are less likely to seek follow-up care as a result.

 

The American College of ObGyn (ACOG) notes that an ObGyn, pediatrician, family medicine physician, or nurse practitioner may be one of first healthcare providers that an adolescent struggling with gender dysphoria (distress caused by the incongruence between one’s expressed or experienced--a.k.a. affirmed-- gender and the gender assigned at birth) may encounter. Making sure that first encounter is safe can be key to fostering continued engagement with the healthcare system and good healthcare outcomes.

 

This means having providers who use inclusive and sensitive language across the gender and sexual spectrum-- not only for gender and sexuality focused care, but for all healthcare needs, from nutrition to dental care to primary care to fertility. When healthcare providers misgender patients, or assume that they’re in heterosexual relationships when they’re not, those patients receive substandard care and are discouraged from seeking healthcare in the future.

 

Why it matters

  • In the U.S. approximately 1.1 and 3.5% of women identify as lesbian and bisexual, respectively, and 0.6% identify as transgender

  • Not all women who identify as LGBTQIA are necessarily going to identify themselves as such to their healthcare provider

  • Studies have shown that LGBTQIA persons report higher rates and more severity of sexual violence than heterosexual women

  • As a result of disparities, stigma, and prior negative experiences, LGBTQIA persons often under utilize healthcare, present later in disease process than heterosexual females, and have fewer encounters for preventative healthcare

How Maven can help

According to one of Maven’s practitioners, Elyssa Kilman, Maven’s professional network has the capacity to reach members of the LBGTQIA community who otherwise might not have access to affirming medical or mental health care. In her work as a Licensed Professional Counselor and Creative Arts Therapist, she explains, “A significant number of the clients I have connected with and developed long-term relationships with through Maven are queer or trans identified, and located in areas of the country or internationally where they couldn't easily find a therapist with whom they felt it was a given that their gender and sexual identities would be understood, processed appropriately when necessary, accepted, and celebrated.”

Everyone deserves access to caring, accepting, affirming healthcare, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or geographical location. Maven’s app-based platform makes this accessibility a reality.

 

Bottom line

Meeting individuals for healthcare where they are and how they are--and seeing them for who they are--is key to creating an inclusive health care company. Maven’s practitioners, our care concierges, and our team comprise a group of people committed to keeping the “care” in healthcare.

More reading

HRC Releases 2018 Healthcare Equality Index, Honors Record Facilities for LGBTQ Inclusion

Human Rights Campaign

Here’s How the Affordable Care Act has Provided Crucial Protections for the LGBTQ Community

Human Rights Campaign

NOW Updates Acronym: LGBTQIA

National Organization for Women

 

Take care,

Jane