Skip to main content

MetroHealth’s Pride Network is committed to providing a safe and affirming place for individuals in the LGBTQ+ community
to receive care. Hear directly from one of our Pride providers about why this type of clinic is so important.

Throughout the month of June, communities around the world come together to recognize and support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex community. Despite significant progress in LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance, gender and sexual minorities face high rates of mistreatment, disrespect and at times outright denial of care when seeking medical services.

Primary care providers at MetroHealth’s Pride Network are committed to creating a respectful and accepting space for LGBTQ+ patients to receive care. Mark McLoney, MD, a family medicine specialist, answers questions about LGBTQ+ health care and how MetroHealth is working to address biases toward it.

Q: What is LGBTQ+ health care?

A: LGBTQ+ health care is in many ways the same health care everyone needs (primary care, behavioral health care, cancer treatment, dementia, substance abuse, etc.) and, like everyone else, it needs to be provided in a respectful and caring manner. There are a few services that are more specific to LGBTQ+ health care such as PrEP, a medication that prevents HIV. Transgender and gender non-conforming patients may need access to gender-affirming services like:

  • Hormone therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Gender affirming surgeries

Q: What are the health disparities that impact this group of individuals?

A: Health disparities vary depending on the specific population of LGBTQ+ individuals. In general, LQBTQ+ adults are more likely than other adults to:

  • Have a disability and chronic health conditions like hypertension
  • Describe their health as poor
  • Have a substance use problem or mental health concern, including thoughts of suicide 
  • Use tobacco products
  • Be at higher risks for HIV

Q: How much does discrimination affect LGBTQ+ people getting care?

A: Transphobia and homophobia play a huge role in the type of, and sometimes lack of, health care for LGBTQ+ patients. This population is more likely to report being mistreated, ignored or dismissed by health care providers. Because of those experiences, they avoid medical care they desperately need. For example, many transmen may avoid getting pap-smears or mammograms because of how they are treated by medical professionals.

This stress and discrimination doesn’t always happen in or stop at the doctor’s office. Additional stressors include ostracization from family, fear when using the bathroom and experiencing targeted hate crimes.

These stressors can lead to gender and sexual minorities developing anxiety and panic disorders because of the trauma they or others have experienced, leading LGBTQ+ people to avoid the care they need.

Q: How can the health care industry support the LQBTQ+ community?

A: In general, the health care industry can support gender and sexual minorities by hiring more LGBTQ+ providers and providing culturally competent appropriate training to providers.

Many doctors and non-medical professionals are unaware that gender-affirming care is a type of competency, and it isn’t just about prescribing hormones — it is about being aware of and respecting the patient’s pronouns, name and gender expression.

This is why our Pride Network is such an important service because patients know they are coming to an organization and a provider who cares about them as a whole person, no matter how they identify.

In the end, if your patients feel comfortable with you, they’ll tell you what you need to know to provide the highest quality care. Even a small gesture like a rainbow flag in a planter can help LGBTQ+ patients feel safe and represented.

More about MetroHealth’s Pride Network

The Pride Network is a collection of nine primary care providers who are committed to creating a respectful and accepting space for LGBTQ+ patients of all ages to receive care. These providers, many of whom are members of the LGBTQ+ community themselves, see patients in Rocky River, Cleveland Heights, Brooklyn and Brecksville. To make an appointment in adult primary and gender care call 216-957-4905 or for more information, visit LGBTQ+ Pride Network | The MetroHealth System.


Mark A. McLoney, MD
Family Medicine