LGBTQ, POC, and Healthcare

I am a person of color. I am also part of the LGBTQ community. I’m a queer Puerto Rican Jew. I am also a femme unicorn, but I digress.

My minority statuses make access to healthcare much harder than my white, straight friends and family members. They don’t get misunderstood. They don’t get ignored by the system.

But I do.

If I am with a woman, I may be put in a situation where I cannot make decisions for her because we would be a same sex couple. My straight friends will never have that problem. Ever.

Most insurance companies do not offer coverage for unmarried domestic partners. Because of this, people who identify as LGBTQ do not have health insurance. Transgender people have the lowest rates of health insurance (National LGBT Cancer Network).

I believe that living a healthy life is a basic human right. Everyone should have access to a doctor, to the dentist, to prenatal care. I believe that health isn’t just the absence of illness, but includes mental health and emotional health as well.

As a Master’s student in the social work program, I have learned about many models that pertain to human rights. The model that has stuck in my mind for many years is the Capabilities Approach, which was first developed by Amartya Sen. Sen put forth ten capabilities that every human being should enjoy in their life. Without these ten capabilities, that human life is not worth living. These ten capabilities are: life (being able to live out one’s life and not die prematurely), bodily health (being able to have good health, shelter, and reproductive health), bodily integrity (being secure from sexual assault and violence), senses, imagination, and thought (literacy, choice, reason), emotions (ability to love, have attachment to things), practical reason (being able to plan one’s life), affiliation (political), other species (respect for animals), play (being able to enjoy oneself), and control over own’s environment (political, material) (Nussbaum).

According to Sen, I am missing a capability. My capability of bodily health is not there. This is a trend in the LGBTQ POC community.

This is what oppression looks like. LGBTQ POC are left behind. We are ignored. Our needs are not being met. This is unacceptable.

I am living in one of the richest countries in the world, yet so many people don’t have the access to the services they need.

This is not an economy problem. This is not a special problem. This is everyone’s problem. When one part of the population is oppressed, everyone is oppressed.

This is a call for attention. This is a cry to be heard.

The National LGBT Cancer Network,
Creating Capabilities, Nussbaum

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