Because any person using a health or community service in Victoria may be same-sex attracted, trans, gender diverse or have an intersex variation, it is important for all services to consider how they can become more inclusive of people who are LGBTI. The majority of health and community service needs of people who are LGBTI can and should be met by inclusive mainstream health and human services.
Three levels of LGBTI inclusive services
There are three levels of LGBTI-inclusive services:
- Mainstream: a generic service that is LGBTI-inclusive and non-discriminatory.
- Mainstream with a specialised program or stream: a mainstream service that has a dedicated program or workers to assist LGBTI clients.
- Specialised service: services that require specialised LGBTI knowledge or skills, which may include training.
It also is important to note the role played by community-led LGBTI organisations in the provision of specialist LGBTI services and mainstream services.
Information about how to build an inclusive service is available as actions for inclusive practice and best practice examples:
Perceived discrimination occurs when someone is treated differently due to a personal trait, this may include sexual orientation, gender identity and ethnicity. People may perceive discrimination when they have been treated unfairly in the past. Whether the perceived discrimination is intended or not, it is important to acknowledge that this can occur and to eliminate discrimination systemically where possible.
For example, a trans man may be seeking medical support, when the doctor calls them into their office they refer to them by their female birth name and use the wrong gender references during the appointment, referring to him as “her”. While this initial contact may not be intended to be offensive, the ongoing reference to the client’s gender is likely to cause distress. It is understandable then, that client’s future interactions with the health and human service sector are likely to be through the lens of perceived discrimination.
Studies into perceived discrimination show that the experience can cause increased mental health issues, including depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts. For LGBTI people who also identify as being Aboriginal or from a culturally and linguistically background, the experience of discrimination may be layered with both being treated unfairly due to different aspects of their identity.
Negative experiences of the health and human service sector are common for LGBTI people. Providers are encouraged to consider this when assisting their clients and acknowledge any concerns the client may have about being treated fairly.