As we close out Pride month, it is important to reflect on the state of access to quality compassionate health care for LGBTQ+ communities. As LGBTQ+ Liberation makes a step forward, there is always a backlash right on its heels. Transgender individuals specifically face immense danger for living authentically, which includes having access to gender-affirming health care. They are more than four times more likely to experience violence, including sexual assault, than cisgender people. Instead of offering more support and services to this community, anti-trans legislation has grown exponentially. Before 2021 there were no gender-affirming care bans in law. Today 16 states ban this essential health care for young people. There are over 350 active anti-trans laws attacking access to care, instituting criminal charges for providers, child-abuse charges for supportive parents of transgender children, and much more.
The risks of violence and legislative bans have undeniable implications for high-quality, equitable health care delivery. In fact, such tactics are antithetical to nursing practice. The Code of Ethics for Nurses states that “the nurse practices with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth, and unique attributes of every person.” Nurses are not only advocates for their patients and the right for everyone to receive the health care they need – nurses practice evidence-based care. Research continues to prove that gender-affirming care improves the overall wellness of gender diverse young people. Laws banning this care are passed under the guise that they are protecting children and parents. In reality, these laws “are not grounded in reputable science” and instead promote misinformation endangering the lives of transgender people across the country.
Nurses continue to be voted the most ethical professionals and hold a unique and enduring level of trust with their patients. From schools to primary care and emergency rooms, we need to be increasing access to comprehensive and compassionate nursing care for the entire LGBTQ+ community. Nurses can ensure they are LGBTQ+ compassionate by following best practices and talking to their colleagues about barriers they witness in their workplaces. Even though June is over, the work to ensure the right of equitable health care for this community must continue year-round.