In light of Transgender Awareness Week (November 13-19), we want to bring people together and remember that respecting our differences make us stronger. People can be different in so many ways. For example, the way they look, their backgrounds, religions, and their sexual orientation, just to name a few. No matter how different we are, we all are part of something bigger than us. We must cherish and respect that.
As a society, we still need to work towards accepting diversity. This is why we want to bring attention to the challenges faced by people in the LGBTQ+ community. People who are from the LGBTQ+ community may identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning. People who identify as LGBTQ+ can and have had healthy pregnancies and babies. Some, however, may face challenges that can affect their health and pregnancies.
When we talk about pregnancy, we often only focus on pregnant women. But not all pregnant people identify as women. For example, some people may identify as male, even though they were born female. For others, their gender is neither male nor female; instead, they consider themselves as non-binary. A non-binary person is someone who doesn’t identify as male or female. These are examples of how people identify themselves, also called gender identification.
Barriers to care
People in the LGBTQ+ community who want to get pregnant or can become pregnant often face stigma. Stigma happens when people put a label on others based on negative social perceptions. When a person faces stigma they are treated unfairly and may be discriminated against. They may feel like they are not accepted or that they are being judged. Stigma affects the health care they received.
Some examples of the problems people in the LGBTQ+ community face include:
- Refusal of services by health care facilities
- Limited access to services, like prenatal care or a preconception checkup
- Difficulty finding health care providers who understand their needs
- Feelings of isolation because their families and even their healthcare professionals may judge them
- Delay in receiving health care because of fear of being mistreated
- Getting the right support and care needed to have a healthy pregnancy
What can we do
We can all help reduce stigma and improve equitable care. Learning about the experiences of LGBTQ+ people can help us understand that what is normal for one group may not be normal for another.
You may want to join a local advocacy network that supports the LGBTQ+ community. Look at the resources below to find out more.
At March of Dimes, we believe that ALL parents and babies — “regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, language or national origin; poverty or socioeconomic status; gender identity or sexual orientation; disability; and region or place (urban and rural) — must have every opportunity for optimal maternal and birth outcomes.”
Resources for LGBTQ+