We describe the emergence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) health as a key area of study and practice for clinicians and public health professionals. We discuss the specific needs of LGBT populations on the basis of the most recent epidemiological and clinical investigations, methods for defining and measuring LGBT populations, and the barriers they face in obtaining appropriate care and services. We then discuss how clinicians and public health professionals can improve research methods, clinical outcomes, and service delivery for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
-Over the past few decades, clinicians, public health researchers, and officials have become increasingly aware that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons constitute sexual and gender minorities who have unique health care needs.1,2 This recognition was enormously heightened by the emergence of the AIDS epidemic, which demonstrated that sexual behavior could have major public health consequences. But the realization that sexual minorities have specific health care needs could arguably have begun with Alfred Kinsey, whose work illuminated the important roles that sexual expression plays in people’s lives.3,4 Certainly, by the early 1970s, debates in the American Psychiatric Association about whether homosexual behavior was pathological suggested that clinicians were aware that their gay and lesbian patients had specific needs that could best be addressed by knowledgeable practitioners. The American Psychiatric Association ultimately recognized that homosexuality was not a psychiatric illness5 but that societal and internalized homophobia may affect access to appropriate care and cause mental distress, which in turn might compromise optimal mental health.
Changing social norms, led by the women’s liberation movement, challenged societal assumptions on gender roles and identities and helped to empower the gay liberation movement to demand civil liberties for sexual minorities. As part of the ethos of community-based activism, sexual minorities developed autonomous health facilities designed to provide culturally sensitive care.
If you want to keep on reading this article by Kenneth H. Mayer, MD, Judith B. Bradford, PhD, Harvey J. Makadon, MD, Ron Stall, PhD, MPH, Hilary Goldhammer, MS, and Stewart Landers, JD, MCP published in Am J Public Health. 2008 June; 98(6): 989–995 – click here.