Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Patient Care
Medicine has made significant but incomplete progress in understanding its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) patients and colleagues. In 1986, homosexuality-based diagnoses were removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Today, the profession has a Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, supports repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and endorses equal hospital visitation and surrogate decision-making rights for LGBT partners. Still, as this month’s authors assert, physicians must develop greater comfort in discussing sexuality and greater competence in caring for members of LGBT communities.
The revisions balance a growing understanding of gender identity disorders and societal views with the need to retain conditions that benefit from intervention and the removal of which would hamper patients’ ability to receive medical treatment.