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Gay People Deserve Healthcare Too

Andrey Popov / Shutterstock / Paul Spella / The Atlantic

Andrey Popov / Shutterstock / Paul Spella / The Atlantic

You would think some lawmakers really want LGBT people to die. Or disappear. Or something. Because a lot of them clearly don’t think it’s important for LGBT people to have access to the same kinds of care that cisgender heterosexual people do. Tennessee’s governor just signed a bill that allows mental health professionals to deny service to people because of their sexual orientation. Multiple people involved in the lawmaking process thought it was okay to introduce a law that makes accessing healthcare even more difficult for people who already have a higher risk of having mental health issues or suicidal ideation.

I’m not sure if they remember, but there’s this little thing called the Hippocratic Oath that doctors often have to take. Additionally, as part of the World Medical Association, members of the American Medical Association should strive to uphold the Declaration of Geneva, a similar declaration of a physician’s dedication to carrying out their job to the best of their ability. The Declaration of Geneva specifically lists sexual orientation as a factor that shouldn’t factor into whether or not a doctor has a duty to a patient. Psychiatrists can’t just refuse to see help people because they’re gay, and anyone who honestly thinks that should be grounds enough for them to refuse service to someone needs to have their medical license revoked.

I don’t think florists should be able to deny service to people because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, but flowers aren’t usually a life or death matter. Mental health services can be, and doctors need to be held to a higher standard. Tennessee isn’t the only state with such harmful laws being considered. Mississippi’s HB 1523 allows for employment and housing discrimination against LGBTQ people, and allows for health care providers to refuse to provide “psychological, counselling or fertility services based upon a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction”. Oklahoma’s SB 973 would make it illegal for state employees to issue same sex marriage licenses and would prohibit the use of public funds “for any activity licensing or supporting same-sex marriage”. That seems to go directly against the Supreme Court decision of 2015, but that’s not stopping lawmakers in Oklahoma from trying to get the law passed.

All these laws are having real effects on real people. They’re essentially designating a large group of people as second-class citizens. That’s not okay. Trans people, especially trans women, are at a disproportionately high risk of becoming homeless or being killed as a result of their gender identity. But North Carolinian lawmakers are more worried about the safety of cis people in bathrooms, going as far as setting up a hotline and encouraging people to take pictures to report people they think are in the wrong bathroom. Trans people are just trying to pee! They’re not going into the bathroom to take pictures of you. Gay people don’t want to deny you housing, or jobs, or access to healthcare. That’s all on the narrow-minded cisgender heterosexual lawmakers with misplaced priorities. Making it harder for people to use bathrooms or see doctors isn’t part of your job description, why are you so obsessed with it?


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Kiitan Doherty is an 18 year old from Nigeria and an editor for the UK/Europe and LGBT sections of Affinity Magazine. She's majoring in Recording Arts and Women's Studies at college in LA (so...she doesn't know what she wants to do with her life but she likes music and feminism). She's pretty much always online on Tumblr or Twitter @Kiitannextdoor (unless she's in class...or at a concert...or watching Cutthroat Kitchen or Family Feud). Feel free to go there and yell with/at her about bands and social issues.


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