Massachusetts Department of Public Health publishes results of a survey on the health of the state’s LGBT community

2 08 2009

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health recently published the results of “the largest survey to date comparing the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) residents to heterosexual and non-transgender residents in Massachusetts”.

The Executive Summary highlights the following findings:

  • Among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, the health of bisexual and transgender people is somewhat worse than their heterosexual and nontransgender counterparts, respectively.
  • The health of lesbian, gay, people is comparable to that of heterosexual respondents. However, lesbians were less likely to have routine pap tests compared with their heterosexual female counterparts.
  • Transgender persons had worse outcomes with respect to self‐reported health, disability status, depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, and lifetime violence victimization.
  • Bisexual respondents how worse outcomes with respect to self‐reported health, disability status, suicide ideation, as well as lower rates of mammography for bisexual women compared with their heterosexual female counterparts.
  • Legally married same‐sex couples were more likely to obtain health insurance through their spouse’s employer than non‐legally same sex couples.

While the findings of this survey are not too surprising, they are still significant.  As Bird of Paradox writes:

To my mind, what’s missing from a lot of these data is the “why” aspect: why are trans people less likely to have access to a doctor than gay and lesbian people, why do we feel depressed more often than cis people, why do we feel suicidal more often, why are we more likely to report being threatened with physical violence by an intimate partner than cis people, and so on. Of course, those reasons will undoubtedly vary widely between individuals, but it would have been interesting to know if any patterns had emerged, and if there were any differences between trans and cis populations.

Overall, I think the report is to be welcomed, cautiously – but I also hope that a more rigorous (and bigger) survey can be carried out in the near future. If nothing else, it suggests that the problems we face in our everyday lives are in urgent need, not only of study, but positive and supportive action by the mainstream cis society which oppresses us in so many ways. However, I also think that for there to be any real improvements in our circumstances there first needs to be a substantial change in cis people’s attitudes to us – and that doesn’t look likely to happen any time soon.


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