As the summer sun sets on 2020 and gives way to autumn, we draw a close to this uniquely virtual and remote Pride season. However, you and I both know that allied behavior, education and awareness must continue year-round: in our communities, in our schools and workplaces, and in Planned Parenthood’s health centers everywhere, in order for our patients to receive the competent and respectful care they deserve.
In many regards, services at Planned Parenthood for LGBTQ patients are not different or set apart from the range of services we offer all patients. We provide the necessary training and resources to our clinicians and other health care staff - giving them the tools needed to best offer services for patients of all sexualities and genders.
Familiarity and knowledge of LGBTQ care can go a long way for patients’ comfort, and it helps providers to reach more accurate diagnosis and treatment plans for their patients.
Most often, when LGBTQ patients say they are looking for “LGBTQ services,” they simply mean that they are looking for providers who do not give them a lower quality of health care due to lack of knowledge or lack of respect.
According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2013, nearly 30% of LGBTQ people said that they have had a bad experience or have been denied care due to their sexuality or gender identity. A more recent 2018 survey from the College of American Pathologists showed that 8% of lesbian, gay and bisexual and 29% of transgender individuals were refused health care due to their sexuality or gender identity.
Because LGBTQ patients have needs that may fall outside of what a health care provider might expect, based on assumptions and cultural biases about gender and sexuality, meaning that simply obtaining care can be a major obstacle.
A Western Washington Health Center Manager illustrated: “A transgender man who wants a pregnancy test, a lesbian who does not have sex with men but wants to take birth control, a transgender woman who wants to begin hormone replacement therapy, a non-binary person with body dysphoria who wants to get a cancer screening, or a gay man who wants an STI panel – these are all people who benefit from LGBTQ-competent health care and suffer when it is lacking.”
There are some services that are specific to the LGBTQ community, including gender affirming hormone care.
Providing transgender health care services aligns with Planned Parenthood’s mission of enabling all people to make empowered, informed decisions about their bodies and lives.
Nationally, Planned Parenthood is the second largest provider of gender affirming hormone care, and based on feedback from our patients, we know that the service is needed in even more communities. Though transgender hormone therapy services are not yet available at all Planned Parenthood locations nationwide, we are working to expand access continually.
Currently, at all Planned Parenthood locations, providers are respectful or patients’ pronouns and gender, and are trained to ask for this information, instead of making assumptions about a patient's gender or sexuality. This information is kept on patient records, ensuring they are kept so that patients do not have to be asked for the same information about gender and sexuality each visit.
“Knowledge of safer sex practices that are relevant to LGBTQ people is also very important,” Rebecca Norman, a Clinical Application Specialist who works out of the Central District health center in Seattle, explained. “If someone who doesn’t have sex with men asks their provider what they can do to lessen their risk of STI’s, and the provider doesn’t know what else to say besides ‘condoms’ and ‘abstinence,’ it does everyone a disservice.”
“We are trying to make sure we do not ‘default’ our patients to assumed heterosexuality,” she added.
As our providers educate themselves and grow their awareness, one of the things they can refer to internally is a glossary of LGBTQ terms.
To commemorate and celebrate Bisexual Day of Visibility which falls this year on a Wednesday, September 23rd, we would like to share a partial list of those terms, taken from our own Equity Style Guide, that our supporters can see our progress and learn along with us.
Partial Glossary of LGBTQ terms
Agender A person who does not identify as having a gender identity that can be categorized as male or female, and sometimes indicates identifying as not having a gender identity.
Ally Someone who supports a group other than one's own (in terms of racial identity, gender, faith identity, sexual orientation, etc.). Allies acknowledge disadvantage and oppression of other groups than their own; take risks and supportive action on their behalf; commit to reducing their own complicity or collusion in oppression of those groups and invest in strengthening their own knowledge and awareness of oppression. Some progressive movements recommend the concept of accomplices rather than allies; In this framing, an ally stands with a marginalized group, while an accomplice works on dismantling oppressive structures that oppress that group as directed by the voices in the marginalized group.
Asexual Describes a person who experiences little or no sexual attraction to others. Asexuality is not the same as celibacy.
Bisexual A sexual orientation that describes a person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people of their own gender and people of other genders.
Cisgender Those who identify and present as the gender they were assigned at birth. For example, a baby born with a vulva is categorized a girl. If she also sees herself as a girl throughout her life, she is considered cisgender. In its simplest terms, cisgender describes someone who is not transgender.
Gay A sexual orientation that describes a person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people of their own gender. It can be used regardless of gender identity but is more commonly used to describe men.
Gender Binary The idea that gender is strictly an either/or option of male/men/masculine or female/woman/feminine based on sex assigned at birth, rather than a continuum or spectrum of gender identities and expressions. The gender binary is often considered to be limiting and problematic for all people, and especially for those who do not fit neatly into either/or categories.
Gender Dysphoria A diagnosis, often used by psychologists and doctors, to describe the distress, unhappiness, and anxiety that transgender people may feel about the mismatch between their bodies and their gender identity. A person may be formally diagnosed with gender dysphoria in order to receive medical treatment to help them transition.
Gender Expression The way a person acts, dresses, speaks, and behaves (i.e., feminine, masculine, androgynous). Gender expression does not necessarily correspond to assigned sex at birth or gender identity.
Gender Fluidity The flexibility of gender expressions and identities that may change over time or even from day to day. A gender fluid person may feel male on some days, female on others, both male and female, or neither. A gender fluid person might also identify as genderqueer.
Gender Neutral A term that describes something (sometimes a space, such as a bathroom; or an item, such as a piece of clothing) that is not segregated by sex/gender. Gender Neutral Language does not assume or confer gender. For example, “person” instead of “man” or “woman.”
Gender Role A set of societal norms dictating what types of behaviors are generally considered acceptable, appropriate or desirable for a person based on their actual or perceived sex.
Genderqueer A term for people who don't identify as a man or a woman or whose identity lies outside the traditional gender binary of male and female. Some people use genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and non-binary interchangeably, but others don't. Genderqueer has a political history, so many use the term to identify their gender as non-normative in some way. For example, someone could identify as both cisgender female and genderqueer.
Heteronormativity The assumption that everyone is heterosexual, and that heterosexuality is superior to all other sexualities.
Heterosexual A sexual orientation that describes women who are emotionally and sexually attracted to men, and men who are emotionally and sexually attracted to women. Often referred to as “straight.”
Homophobia The fear of, discrimination against, or hatred of lesbian or gay people or those who are perceived as such.
Intersex A general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn't fit the typical definitions of female or male. Sometimes a female or male gender is assigned to an intersex person at birth through surgery, if external genitals are not obviously male or female. Intersex babies are always assigned a legal gender, but sometimes when they grow up, they don't identify with the gender selected for them. Some intersex people are transgender, but intersex does not necessarily mean transgender. Intersex is an umbrella term that describes a person born with sex characteristics that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies. The term describes a wide range of natural variations in human bodies. Intersex is frequently confused with transgender, but the two are completely distinct from one another.
Lesbian A sexual orientation that describes a woman who is emotionally and sexually attracted to other women.
Non-Binary A continuum or spectrum of gender identities and expressions, often based on the rejection of the gender binary’s assumption that gender is strictly an either/or option of male/man/masculine or female/ woman/feminine based on sex assigned at birth. Words that people may use to express their nonbinary gender identity include agender, genderqueer, genderfluid, and pangender.
Pangender A person who identifies as all genders.
Pansexual A sexual orientation that describes a person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people regardless of gender.
Queer An umbrella term used by some to describe people who think of their sexual orientation or gender identity as outside of societal norms. Some people view the term queer as more fluid and inclusive than traditional categories for sexual orientation and gender identity. Due to its history as a derogatory term, the term queer is not embraced or used by all members of the LGBT community.
Questioning A person who is exploring or questioning their gender identity or expression. Some may later identify as transgender or gender non-conforming, while others may not. Can also refer to someone who is questioning or exploring their sexual orientation.
Same-Gender Loving A label sometimes used by members of the African American/Black community to express an alternative sexual orientation without relying on terms and symbols of European descent. The term emerged in the early 1990’s with the intention of offering Black women who love women and Black men who love men a voice, a way of identifying and being that resonated with the uniqueness of Black culture. (Sometimes abbreviated “SGL”).
Sex Assigned at Birth The determination of a person’s sex based on the visual appearance of the genitals at birth. The sex someone is labeled at birth.
Sexual Orientation A person’s feelings of attraction (emotional, psychological, physical, and/or sexual) towards other people. A person may be attracted to people of the same gender, to those of the opposite sex, to those of both sexes, or without reference to sex or gender. And some people do not experience primary sexual attraction and may identify as asexual. Sexual orientation is about attraction to other people (external), while gender identity is a deep-seated sense of self (internal). All people have a sexual orientation that is separate from their assigned sex, gender identity, and gender expression.
Transgender A general term used to describe someone whose gender expression/gender identity are different than the sex assigned at birth. Sometimes shortened to “trans.”
Transphobia The fear of, discrimination against, or hatred of transgender or gender non-conforming people or those who are perceived as such.
Transsexual An older term for people whose gender identities don't match the sex that was assigned at birth and who desire and/or seek to transition to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identities. (Some people find this term offensive, others do not. Only refer to someone as transsexual if they tell you that's how they identify).
Two Spirit A widely used umbrella term used by Native and Indigenous Peoples to recognize culturally specific third gender or gender-variant roles (and sometimes sexual identities). Is sometimes also used to describe Native Peoples of diverse sexual orientations and has nuanced meanings in various indigenous sub-cultures. It is only applicable and relevant within Indigenous communities.
LGBTQ Dates of Note
Intersex Awareness Day – October 26
Stonewall Riots Anniversary – June 28
To support Planned Parenthood’s continual improvement and expansion of LGBTQ health care, please donate here.