How COVID-19 hinders the growth of understanding a misunderstood and discriminated population.

May 12, 2020
The LGBTQ community struggles with similar issues of straight and cisgender population during this COVID-19 pandemic. People are being laid off or having a cut in pay due to limited shifts or opportunity to work, as well as being employed as essential workers who are on the front lines taking care of others who have contracted COVID-19. About 5million LGBTQ identified community out of 14million LGBTQ adults and 2 million LGBTQ youth work in industries that will be highly affected by COVID-19 (restaurants, teachers, healthcare works, etc.) (1)

The LGBTQ community is an at-risk population for COVID-19 contraction. According to the Human Rights Campaign, the LGBTQ community is more at risk than the general population for such struggles such as poverty, access to healthcare, limited access to health supports, paid medical leave and basic human needs. One in ten LGBTQ people are unemployed and impoverish than straight people, therefore leading to struggles affording doctor’s visits and acquiring and keeping health insurance. These high rates of poverty and unemployment also can be linked to discrimination, which leads to possible loss of jobs, being looked over for promotions, or not being considered for a job in the first place. (1)

Because of the rates of poverty and lack of employment, the 2018 BRFSS reports 17% of LGBTQ adults lack any kind of health care coverage as well as 23% of LGBTQ adults of color, 22% of transgender adults, and 32% of transgender adults of color. (1) With the lack of healthcare and limited financial resources, LGBTQ adults are less likely to receive care and treatment if they experience any COVID-19 related symptoms or health issues.

LGBTQ community is also at risk for contracting COVID-19 due to the population being more likely to smoke every day (up to 50% more than general population,) (transequality.org) which affects the respiratory system. The LGBTQ community also has  higher rates of HIV infection and cancer, weakening the immune system and making this population more susceptible to infection. (1,2)

Besides having issues with accessing healthcare, financial hardships, and poverty, the stay-at-home orders mandated by Governors around the US and the President causes LGBTQ people to quarantine in environments that may not be as supportive and more isolating than before the mandated quarantine. Being a part of the LGBTQ community comes with the fear of being discriminated against in many atmospheres, the home being one of them. Living with family members who are not supportive of their lifestyle can cause deterioration to their mental health. LGBTQ older adults are also more likely to live alone and less like to have larger families such as a spouse or children, therefore feeling more isolated from supports as well as not having close family members to help take care of them if they fall ill. (1)

If anyone is feeling alone or isolated, either if they are living alone or with others, it is important to reach out to those that are supportive. Utilizing other forms of communication such as cell phone, FaceTime, and different online video chat options can help with connecting with those closest to us while also maintaining healthy social distancing. TIME Magazine online posted, with several Pride events around the world being forced to cancel their activities due to stay-at-home mandates, Interpride and the European Pride Organisers Association are organizing a “Global Pride” event for June 27, 2020. There will be a 24 hour live stream “including remote contributions from international Prides, speeches from human rights activists, workshops with activists, and high profile performers.” (4) I’ve also attached Funders for LGBTQ issues, discussing funding for LGBTQ related issues and places to receive support during this time.

Remember to try and reach out to support systems and take care of your medical needs with the resources available to you. Reach out to a therapist that can also provide you support via telehealth platforms as well and remember to stay safe.

  1. Human Rights Campaign Brief: https://www.hrc.org/campaigns/covid-19
  2. National Center for Transgender Equality: https://transequality.org/covid19
  3. USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/03/18/lgbtq-coronavirus-community-vulnerable-covid-19-pandemic/2863813001/
  4. TIME: https://time.com/5814554/coronavirus-lgbtq-community-pride/
  5. National LGBTQ Cancer Network: https://cancer-network.org/coronavirus-2019-lgbtq-info/
  6. Harvard Health Publishing Blog: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/covid-19-and-the-lgbtq-community-rising-to-unique-challenges-2020043019721

Funders for LGBTQ Issues: https://lgbtfunders.org/covid-19-response/