The College of Pharmacists of BC Joins the 2SLGBTQ+ Community in Celebrating PRIDE 2021
As part of Pride 2021, the College would like to remind all BC’s pharmacy and health professionals of the vital role they play in ensuring 2SLGBTQ+ people receive safe, effective and ethical care at all levels of our health system.
Pride Season is a time to celebrate Canada’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Two-Spirit communities, and/or those who identify with another non-binary gender or minority sexual identity (LGBTQ2+).
During Pride Week, which kicked off on July 26, 2021, the College encourages all health professionals to #ChooseYourPride. Pride means many things to many people; we ask that you take a moment to reflect upon and expand your understanding of the queer community and to celebrate the vibrancy of 2SLGBTQ+ individuals in Canada.
Canada is now home to approximately one million people who identify as part of the 2SLGBTQ+ Community, accounting for 4% of the total population aged 15 and older. (Statistics Canada, 2021) However, while Canada’s 2SLGBTQ+ population continues to grow, 2SLGBTQ+ patients continue to experience significant barriers with regards to health care access.
As health professionals, we need to continue to reflect on how we are creating a welcoming and safe environment for 2SLGBTQ+ in the care we provide. Learning about the experiences of 2SLGBTQ+ people and how to use gender inclusive language in your practice can help reduce barriers to care for 2SLGBTQ+ patients.
It’s important to remember that 2SLGBTQ+ people may also experience other forms of stigma and discrimination – such as racism, sexism, poverty or other factors – alongside homophobia or transphobia, that negatively impact their ability to access healthcare services.
This is known as Intersectionality, and refers to how multiple concurrent and ongoing types of bias influence and amplify one another (i.e. racism, sexism, anti-trans bias).
For example, a transgender person might experience transphobia as a barrier to care, while a racialized and disabled transgender person might experience racism, disability discrimination and transphobia as more complex interlocking system of barriers. It is at the intersection of various social worlds where barriers to care become enhanced and made more complex.
How Can Health Care Professionals Create Safe and Respectful Environments for 2SLGBTQ+ Individuals
“We cannot solve the problems until we are aware of what the problems are, and as of right now, these knowledge gaps often leave a burden of education on marginalized people. The barriers faced by gender and sexual minorities are not always obvious; however, there are simple ways that health care providers can provide low-to-no barrier access to services and signal a safe and inclusive environment while doing so”
Using Inclusive Language
One of the most important things health professionals can do to improve care for 2SLGBTQ+ individuals is to ensure that we are actively working to create and maintain environments where they feel safe and respected.
2SLGBTQ+ is an umbrella term for people who identify as something other than heterosexual and/or cisgender. Beyond that, there are a number of key definitions we use to speak about the various distinctions between things like sex, gender, gender identity, trans identity and sexual orientation.
Using the correct terms, language, names, and pronouns is one of the most important things health professionals can do to improve care for 2SLGBTQ+ individuals. Framing all interactions in health care settings with inclusive language is a starting point for creating welcoming environments where individuals feel safe and respected, which will ultimately lead to better health outcomes.
Use the following resources to learn more about how to use inclusive language within healthcare settings:
- Gender Inclusive Language: Building Relationships with New Clients (Trans Care BC)
- Glossary of Gender Terminology (Trans Care BC)
- Gender Basics and Education (Trans Care BC)
- Queer Terminology – From A to Q (Qmunity)
- BCCDC COVID-19 Language Guide (BC Centre for Disease Control)
Making Mistakes and Correcting Them
One of the most significant barriers to access for 2SLGBTQ+ individuals is negative interactions with healthcare professionals. Don’t let fear of making mistakes stop you from providing care to diverse people.
If you make a mistake in your choice of words, terms, names or pronouns:
If you make repeated mistakes, check-in with the client to address any negative feelings that arise.
Additional Recommendations for Removing Barriers to Care Experienced by 2SLGBTQ+ Individuals
In January 2020, Bex Peterson, a nonbinary writer, student and advocate for 2SLGBTQ+ people published an article on the College‘s website offering guidance and best practice for addressing healthcare challenges faced by the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
Below is a summarized list of Bex’s recommended best practices for healthcare professionals:
FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH 2SLGBTQ+ COMMUNITY TERMS
2SLGBTQ+ is an umbrella term for people who identify as something other than heterosexual and/or cisgender.
UNDERSTAND HOW 2SLGBTQ+ IDENTIFICATION CAN IMPACT PATIENT SAFETY AND EXPERIENCE
Understanding these terms is paramount for comprehending the barriers trans people in particular often come up against in health care spaces. Because of the nature of health care, providers often have access to information that can be uncomfortable or harmful for trans people, such as previous names and records of assigned gender at birth.
Healthcare workers should look to incorporate ongoing records of patient pronouns and names-in-use, rather than working off assumptions from medical records. As well, health care providers can “signal” an inclusive workplace by wearing nametags with their personal pronouns listed.
UNDERSTANDING HOW 2SLGBTQ+ STEREOTYPES CAN IMPACT PATIENT SAFETY
2SLGBTQ+ people also often experience barriers with regards to assumptions. Though we have supposedly moved past identifying homosexuality as a mental illness, assumptions regarding gender and sexual minority “lifestyles” regardless of individual experiences can result in patient concerns going unheard in favour of whatever fits a stereotypical narrative.
CREATING A WELCOMING AND SAFE ENVIRONMENT
A welcome environment starts before a patient walks through the door. If we continue to see 2SLGBTQ+ people as aberrations from a norm, we cannot holistically shift to a workplace mindset that appropriately addresses community concerns. Any patient, any co-worker, any person one interacts with over the course of a day might be 2SLGBTQ+. It is recommended that discrimination policies are reviewed and, far more importantly, properly enforced in the spirit of ongoing education rather than punishment and policing.
COMMIT TO CONTINUING TO LEARN
The 2SLGBTQ+ community is constantly growing and evolving. As such, 2SLGBTQ+ allyship is an ongoing learning process. Healthcare providers are encouraged to seek out self-education to remove the burden from patients. Gaps in knowledge are inevitable. However, “I don’t know” is not nearly as valuable a response to a knowledge gap as “I don’t know, but I will find out.”
Healthcare providers should treat each patient as an individual, regardless of sexual or gender identity.
- Vancouver Pride
- The Health of LGBTQIA2 Communities in Canada – Report of the Standing Committee on Health
- 2020-07 Exploring Gender Diversity – Provincial Health Services Authority
- Trans Basics – Provincial Health Services Authority
- Primary Care Resources – Provincial Health Services Authority
- Clinical Speaker Series – Provincial Health Services Authority
- Gender Basics & Education – Trans Care BC