Conversion To Conversation

Healthcare for the Queer: Challenges and Solutions

The Census 2011 data reveals over 50 lakh people have visual impairments but collectively, it looks all Indians suffer from perceptual blindness — the failure to notice a fully visible yet unexpected outcome because attention was paid elsewhere. We, as a society, seem to have become blind to the issues of nearly 2.5 million Indians gays- the most visible minority among queers-so much so that around 90% of them lie below the poverty line- a double whammy of being hemmed down by a economic impairment in addition to the social impairment.Over the last decade progress on disability and equal pay in the urban cities has been palpable, yet not on LGBT+ rights. The need of the hour is nothing short of a revolution of inclusivity, a coming together of all stake holders to take the challenges head-on. 

Divine but Marginalized 

One national education policy that fits all children is clearly outdated. Several LGBT+ children drop out of school quite early due to lack of a conducive learning environment seriously hampering their health literacy and access to healthcare often pushing them into self- medication. To combat the dearth of infrastructure and facilitate access, LGBT+ friendly policies have been enacted in various states. However, a major chunk of work is still left undone. While, the updated MBBS curriculum hopes to breathe a new life into the ethical standards and etiquettes of next-gen doctors with components on disability rights and accessible healthcare for PwD, it’s noteworthy that the needs of queer people are not addressed. 

Discrimination-Free Open-Door Care 

The Supreme Court Judgement of 2018 that declared “the right to health (of LGBT+) is understood to be indispensable” exhorts us to be their allies. Psychologists are usually the first queer community would reach out to and hence clarity and acceptance about their gender is more important than dishing out incorrect diagnoses of depression and anxiety or begin ‘conversion therapy’. Health professionals like physicians, endocrinologists, gynaecologists, psychiatrists need to understand their nuanced needs with a better perspective on the unique stressors they face and institutionalisation of material from the margins coupled with acceptance and empathy is the way forward to create safe spaces.

More than Medicine 

If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” 

-Charles Darwin

 An astonishing 6 out of 10 people today use lenses for what was considered to be a serious aberration over a century ago. The Indian Psychiatric Society radical stance by declassifying homosexuality as an illness is liberating and heartening. However, if millions of queer people in the country continue to struggle to access healthcare, independently navigate public spaces or chase their dreams, all the brouhaha of inclusivity amounts to little. Echoing the contemporary shift in gender identity discourse from ‘objects of charity’ to subjects with rights, let’s target them with 3 Es. 

ENGAGE with conversation. EMPOWER with knowledge. EDUCATE with reliable content. 

-Rahul John, 

Intern, 

AIIMS Bhopal

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