LGBTQIA+ Information for Providers

We use the term LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and more) and acknowledge a range of terminology preferences exists.

Improve access to care.

Small changes to healthcare office policy, procedure and approaches can reduce barriers to treatment.

We used focus group feedback from LGBTQIA+ community members to share guidance with you.

“Hospitals [were] not an option. It was never a haven for me, never safe for me… Other organizations are forwardly LGBTQ, they were welcoming…”  – Focus group participant 

Help all people feel welcome in your office.

Many people’s name or gender differs from their medical chart or ID. Some LGBTQIA+ people may avoid healthcare because of historic or personal experiences of homophobia or transphobia within the medical system.

Improve name and ID policies.

Record a patient’s sex assigned at birth, gender and preferred name on intake forms. Ask patients for their pronouns.

“[The] biggest barrier medically in general for trans people is that sort of disconnect that’s visual dysphoria or [in]congruence between your legal ID.” – Focus group participant 

It’s better to ask.

Many LGBTQIA+ people choose names that better reflect their identities. For some, it can be traumatic to be called their old name, whether or not they have changed it legally. “Deadnaming” is a reason trans people may avoid healthcare.

Create a visibly safe space.

Make a safe space where patients feel free from harassment, judgement or other emotional or physical harm. Show your space is welcoming and safe. These visual cues and symbols can help you do this: 

  • A non-discrimination statement. Check out this example from American Medical Association.
  • Brochures about LGBTQIA+ health concerns.
  • A rainbow flag, unisex bathroom signs or LGBTQIA+ friendly symbols where appropriate.
  • Posters from nonprofit LGBTQIA+ or HIV/AIDS organizations.
  • Use gender neutral language.
“They know it’s safe for them if everyone understands them and understands their language. I’m not going to go in and look at people who don’t understand me. I’ll turn around.” – Focus group participant

Learn about sexual orientation and gender identity.

“I think we’re more of a community-oriented people than others. We know how important it is to be together in a group as a community and we want other people to have access to that space and that resource.” – Focus group participant

Learning About Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) from University of Connecticut School of Social Work

Take LGBTQIA+ training.

Work with trans people around informational messages. You can also pay us to write that language for you.” – Focus group participant

Recommended training.

American Medical AssociationCreating an LGBTQ+ Friendly PracticeHow to welcome LGBTQIA+ patients.
Centers for Disease Control and PreventionLesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender HealthLGBTQIA+ health resources for clinicians, researchers and other health professionals.
The Joint CommissionEffective Communication, Cultural Competence and Patient- and Family-Centered Care for the LGBTQ+ CommunityCommunication and care guide for LGBTQIA+ patients.
Fenway HealthSexual Health History: Talking Sex with Gender Non-Conforming and Trans PatientsHow to discuss sexual health with gender non-conforming and transgender patients.
OutCare HealthOutCare Health WebsiteResources, trainings and healthcare directories for LGBTQIA+ patients, providers and insurance companies.
GLMAHealth Professionals Advancing LGBTQ+ EqualityLGBTQIA+ focused research, advocacy and education.
U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesLGBTQI+ Health & Well-beingHealth reports, resources and non-discrimination rights for accessing healthcare.

Connect with local LGBTQIA+ organizations.

115 Unity St #302
Bellingham, WA 98225
Lifelong delivers food, housing, and health services to people living with chronic illnesses, including HIV and AIDS
NWYS Queer Youth Services
1020 North State St.
Bellingham, WA 98225
Queer Youth Services provides education, advocacy, and support for Queer youth, their loved ones, and community providers. Queer Youth Services is a partner of Samaritan, a platform that connects youth with financial needs to community funding. 
Whatcom PFLAG
We are members of the Whatcom LGBTQ+ community — out or otherwise. And we are family, friends, and allies of the entire spectrum of gender and sexual minorities. We work to provide a foundation united with LGBTQ people and allies who all support one another on their journey. Offer support, advocacy, and education.
Whatcom Youth Pride
Formed in late 2018/early 2019, volunteers that comprise the Whatcom Youth Pride Coalition (WYPC) – school staff and educators, parents, and community members – came together with a shared goal of finding ways to celebrate and show support to LGBTQIA+ youth in Whatcom County.