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Feel Like Your Identity Isn't Represented in Health Care? You're Not Alone

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Have you ever been to a health provider who just doesn’t seem to “get you?” Me too, and that’s speaking as a cisgender heterosexual white man living with mental illness — my identity is hardly underrepresented in health care. However, for people with diverse identities — such as gender, race, sexual orientation, or even age and religion — it can be important to find representation in health care. For example, Mighty contributor Ameera Ladak wrote in 2020 about how important it is for BIPOC people to feel supported by white therapists. Maya Lorde has similarly written about the difficulty of seeing white therapists who have been privileged in areas she has been oppressed as a queer Black woman.

We asked our community which parts of their identities they wish were more represented in health care. As you’ll see, it’s clear that those who go into health care need to better educate themselves, at the very least, on how conditions affect people of different identities to their own.

Here’s what our community told us:

“Biracial or non-white dermatologists.” — @mgsteph0

“That the therapist understood that I’m a grandchild of Holocaust survivors. That I carried the burden of our genocide for and with them until they died. I believe I am represented in all but being Jewish.” — @tamiabrahamy

“I would like to not be dismissed because I’m young. I would like there to be some acknowledgment that all the vitamins and supplements and such are very expensive for persons of low socioeconomic status. Joining a gym or swimming frequently isn’t financially possible when you have to choose which bills to pay this month. Also putting a person on a necessary medication that causes weight gain and water retention as a main side effect should preclude that patient from any future criticism or fat shaming.” — @llovemyllamatribe

“More health professionals need to recognize that almost 50% of patients are single. That can mean that there’s nobody to give the patient a ride home after medical procedures or help take care of them if they need aftercare. It can also mean that they might not have a good support system, especially when it comes to emotional and mental health.” — @leighhi

“I’m non-binary, asexual, and panromantic. I’d like to see more health care providers start using people’s correct gender pronouns. My provider has a place on their forms where you can list your pronouns, but they don’t necessarily remember to use them. I’d also like to see a lot more doctors and mental health providers who don’t think asexuality is the result of past trauma and once I heal from that trauma I’ll be happily sexing away. Look, I have bipolar disorder, and if I didn’t have sex during my hypomanic episodes, it ain’t gonna happen.” — @danceswithcats

“I’m a disabled trans man, and I wish I saw more support for that.” — @lothie

“Just anyone who doesn’t blame everything on being obese. I don’t think that’s why I had a stone in my salivary gland, for example.” — @marymcsparkle

“I wish they would know more about autism, especially autism in women. Unfortunately, I have often been to the ER, and in hospital after surgery. Most of the time, they go by facial expressions to judge if someone is in pain. But mine don’t match my pain level, as I have been masking that ‘everything is fine’ for many many years. I’ve been denied the correct level of pain medication at times because ‘I looked fine.’” — @velasca

“Wish more doctors and therapists knew how to actually deal with generational trauma (and severe childhood trauma) and what it’s like to be an Indigenous woman.” — @kathryn_rae

“I am a 71-year-old woman. For complicated reasons, I prefer male therapists, and it’s harder and harder to find one. I have had five therapists and failed miserably with one woman. My fifth, current, and I hope last therapist is a man only a few years younger than me. I feel so blessed to have a male therapist who (bonus) is a baby-boomer and understands how I grew up, what the 60s were really like, etc. I consider most of my previous therapy to be a success, and yet this therapist has dug deeper and helped me more than anyone. My goal is to phase out before he retires!” — @fightingwhileaccepting

“I wish more people who worked in health care had experience of what it is like to have anxiety. Particularly the receptionists who don’t ever seem to understand that some patients really struggle with simply phoning the doctor to make an appointment.” — @cathyosman

“That more practitioners have lived experience of rape, suicidal ideation, and childhood sexual abuse. Not that I wish this to happen to anyone but that they understood better.” — @tanyadavidson

“I would love to be able to see a doctor who is trans, nonbinary, or otherwise gender-expansive or nonconforming. I wish it was even an option to identify as nonbinary on most medical forms. I’d also like to have practitioners who have lived experience of mental health issues like depression or anxiety, who believe their patients and don’t write off every symptom as a manifestation of something mental without at least checking it out first.” — @quartsofquartz

“More Black registered dietitians. Currently, there are only around 3% in the US. Even though I see a non-Black dietitian that I love, many other Black patients are hesitant to see a registered dietitian because they believe that our Black cultural foods would not be honored nor represented. At one point, I’ve seriously considered taking classes to become one myself, but the way that the current process is set up, it will cost a ton of money and will put my family into debt. Plus, my daughter will be college-bound by the time I would have a degree.” — @thegeneticdiabetic

Looking for a therapist who understands your identity? Check out Mighty contributor Araya Baker’s list of disabled, LGBTQIA+, people of color, or religious minority therapists.

Getty image by Sensvector

Originally published: July 20, 2022
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