Each year, health professionals and community organizers team up for National LGBTQ Health Awareness Week, held March 21-25). This year’s LGBTQ Health Awareness Week theme, “Live Out Loud,” encourages each of us to speak openly about the barriers surrounding LGBTQ health, providing a means to discuss challenging issues and work toward ending stigma through providing equitable and inclusive healthcare.

Hospitals and health systems across the country have already begun efforts to improve LGBTQ health by collecting SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) data in health-related surveys and health records, appropriately inquiring and being supportive of patient sexual orientation and gender identity and providing training to clinical and administrative team members. Collecting and utilizing SOGI data can be incredibly useful in identifying specific needs and health disparities experienced by the LGBTQ community. The opportunity to share a patient’s whole-self is imperative for creating a trusting relationship between patients and providers.

March wraps up with the 13th annual International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV). A celebration founded in 2009 by transgender activist Rachel Crandall-Crocker, TDoV is one of the first observances centering transgender people that does not exclusively focus on mourning victims of anti-transgender violence. Observed on March 31st, this day celebrates the resilience of transgender and gender nonconforming communities while raising awareness of the work that is still yet to be complete. Barriers to health care for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals may include societal stigma, discrimination and access to affirming care.

Another year full of bright spots and challenges, 2021 offered many celebrations for LGBTQ communities — from a record number of LGBTQ government officials including 11 members of Congress, to the confirmation of Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay Cabinet member to be confirmed by the Senate. Each of these moments in history provides visibility for LGBTQ stories and people and further advances inclusion and belonging. Now, we look to 2022 to continue advancing health equity for all.

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