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Youth Blog

Finding LGBTQ+ inclusive medical care

By E. Andersen
June 1, 2023

Going to the doctor is nerve-wracking for everyone. It is even more nerve-wracking when you face prejudice and feel as though you have nowhere else to go. As a foster youth, I always felt stuck and had to accept whatever placement and care I received. So when I encountered a doctor who did not respect my sexuality, I again felt stuck. 

When I told her that I identify as LGBTQ+, I was first met with silence. Her demeanor changed, as she asked me to lie down on the bed so she could examine me. Instead of a friendly smile, I was now met with a blank stare. I had a question to ask, but I no longer felt completely safe and comfortable to do so. 

When I told her that I identify as LGBTQ+, I was first met with silence. Her demeanor changed…

Finally, I got up the nerve to ask anyway when she told me, in a condescending tone, that most people deal with my “issue” by speaking to friends and family about it. I nodded along but could not wait to get out. I felt as though something was wrong with me, and I never wanted to speak to anyone about sexual health again.

Then I moved away to go to college and I needed to find a new provider. This was when I realized it was possible to be treated with respect by healthcare professionals, no matter your sexuality or experience in foster care. And I realized I deserve to be treated with respect

Feeling Welcome At the Doctor’s Office

On my first visit, while waiting for the new doctor to enter, I looked around the room and swung my feet over the side of the bed. The room looked like any standard doctor’s office would: it had a simplistic design, a chair beside the bed, and some posters on the wall about strategies to better one’s health. I assumed this provider would be no different from the last, but when the doctor entered, I realized how wrong I was. 

She came in with a lanyard around her neck and two pins attached: one that listed her pronouns and the other holding a rainbow. From the moment I saw these pins, I felt a sense of relief in knowing that I was in a safe environment and would not be judged for being who I am. Although during that initial visit, I did not have a sexual health concern, I knew that I had a place I could access any care I needed. My vow to never speak about sexual health was replaced by a willingness to be open and express any future concerns I had with this provider.

I felt a sense of relief in knowing that I was in a safe environment and would not be judged for being who I am.

I wish I had known sooner that it is possible to find providers who honor your identity and provide inclusive care. 

If you feel stuck or have had negative encounters with medical professionals in the past, know that you also can find someone who provides the care that you need. Here is a list of things to consider when finding the right medical provider.

3 Characteristics of Inclusive Medical Care

1. Someone Who Answers Questions

Sexual and reproductive health is your right and incredibly important for your healthy development. Your primary care physician should answer your sexual health questions with respect and dignity, regardless of your sexual orientation or identity. If your doctor avoids answering your questions or treats them as unimportant, that is not the right place to be.

There ARE doctors who will make you feel safe asking your questions – just like the doctor I had in college. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, you can even try writing down your questions before you visit and handing the paper to your doctor so they can help start the conversation for you.

2. No Pressure Zone

Informing your medical provider about your sexuality can help you get the care you need, and listening to their advice can help you then make your own choices. This is the relationship you deserve, and it’s the one that will help you be as healthy as you can be. 

A medical provider should not pressure you to make decisions that you are not comfortable with – like decisions around birth control. Plus, your doctor should not interfere in how and when you choose to reveal your sexuality to others. The doctor’s office should be a safe space where you receive the care and guidance that you deserve.

3. Assumption Free + Personalized Care

Find an inclusive provider who makes it a priority to ask about you, including your gender identity and sexuality. 

Your doctor should be mindful that sex does not look the same for everyone and understand your situation to best meet your unique healthcare needs. When my doctor asked me about my sexual health, she also made it a priority to ask about protection and pregnancy concerns. She made it clear that I did not have to fit into a box to receive the care I deserve.  

If you find yourself in a situation where your healthcare provider is not treating you with the respect you deserve, it may be time to look elsewhere.


Need help finding the right provider? Here is a list of some resources that can help: 

LGBTQ+ Healthcare Finder

  • Click here or here to find a LGBTQ+ friendly provider.
  • Click here to find affirming healthcare resources specific to your state.


  • Click here for medically accurate, non-judgemental sexual health information.
  • Click here to enter your zip code and find a clinic near you in California. 


  • Foster youth receive free health insurance that includes  family planning and services, which includes confidential sex education, STI/HIV testing, pregnancy testing, and birth control.
  • Call the office of the Medi-Cal Ombudsman (888-452-8609) or the Medi-Cal Hotline (916-636-1980).
  • Click here to search for a provider who takes Medi-Cal.


  • Click here to watch a video about accessing mental health services through Medi-Cal.
  • Click here to learn about insurance coverage and family planning services.
  • Click here for information on finding the right clinic.
  • Click here for information about your healthcare rights and services you can access.

Talk With Your Kids

  • Click here for teen specific books and websites on sexual health.

Other Helpful Resources

  • Click here for comprehensive sexual education videos.
  • Click here for sexual health resources and education for different ages.
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