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NCDHHS holds panel to discuss health disparities in the LGBTQ community


On Wednesday, the North Carolina Department of of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) held a panel discussing health disparities amongst the LGBTQ population in the state.

The rise of anti-transgender legislation across the country has pushed medical care for the LGBTQ community into the spotlight.

But the issue isn't new. LGBTQ individuals have historically had healthcare gatekept from them; in some cases, they've had to lie about who they were to clinicians and avoided the medical sphere altogether at times. Steve Stonecypher, a Managing Partner with Shipwright Healthcare Group in the Winston-Salem region noted that history is important context for the present.

“We're talking about the people that prior to 1973, it was a psychological condition. They could be put in a hospital for being homosexual… These are people that can be thrown in jail, lose their jobs, they will be advertised in a newspaper," he said.

Disparities in healthcare come from various factors, each to a different degree based on the individual. Members of the panel agreed, however, that a common denominator was a lack of trust in the healthcare system.

“One is to note that the healthcare system, as most systems, will never move faster than the speed of trust,"NCDHHS Health Secretary Kody Kinsley said.

He's a member of the LGBTQ community and has personal experience being unsure of how to navigate the healthcare sphere.

Other members of the panel brought attention to the need for self-advocacy and education. That's important, especially when people don’t actually know their rights under the law and or healthcare practice policies.

That’s where the title "public health" becomes important, panel members said.

Curtis Hartley, an intern with NCDHHS, reinforced the sentiment that humans should always come before personal beliefs in the healthcare system:

"Because public health isn't political, public health is fact-based and evidence-based. So how rebranding public health would be great… but how do we get it across to people that this is not a space for politics, it's not a space for religion. It's a space where we come together with fact-based and evidence-based approaches and research," Hartley said.

Camille hails from Long Island, NY and graduated from Boston University with a BS in Journalism and double minors in Classical Civilizations and Philosophy. Her story focus revolves her deep care for children, young adults and mental health. You can reach her at cmojica@whqr.org.