Aliya Feroe recalls the flustered OB-GYN who referred her to another physician after learning she identified as queer. For Rhi Ledgerwood, who was designated female at birth, identifies as trans and doesn’t have sex with men, it was a doctor advising about condoms and pregnancy prevention. For Tim Keyes, who came out as gay at age 17, it’s when doctors automatically assumed he sleeps with women.
Ask any LGBTQ patient about awkward doctor visits and chances are they’ll have a story to tell.
When being heterosexual is presumed even in doctors’ offices, those who identify otherwise can feel marginalized and less likely to seek medical care, contributing to health problems that include high rates of depression, suicidal behavior, alcohol and drug use and inadequate health screenings, LGBTQ advocates say.
Alex Keuroghlian and Kevin Kapila are world travelers. Authorities on LGBTQ medical and mental health care, the Harvard Medical School and Fenway Health psychiatrists have circled the globe providing education and training workshops in countries such as Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda.
But their trip to South Korea in October was different. Their journey to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, formally known as U.S. Army Garrison-Humphreys and the United States’ largest overseas military base, came at the invitation of base medical commanders.