lesbian well-being

Despite what many see as America’s growing acceptance for LGBT individuals — not to mention President Obama’s recent executive order banning discrimination against federal employees — the community “too frequently experiences discrimination and stigma that negatively affects its financial, physical, and emotional health,” according to Gary Gates, the author of a recent Gallup study on well-being.

Based on more than 80,000 interviews conducted in the first half of 2014, the Gallup poll finds that LGBT women are particularly hard hit by discrimination. In terms of financial stability and physical health — two of the five areas Gallup uses to measure well-being — lesbians and bisexual and transgender women report being worse off than other Americans.

With respect to financial stability, only 27 percent of LGBT women said they were “thriving,” Hayley Fox of reports. That’s compared to 39 percent of straight women and 40 percent of straight men. Experts say the disparity is likely due to a “double whammy” effect: LGBT women earn less both because they’re women — who continue to make less across the board — and because of stigmas associated with their lifestyles.

The earning gap is problematic for many reasons — a major one being that it prevents LGBT women from gaining access to adequate health care. While 36 percent of straight women surveyed said they were “thriving” in terms of health, a mere 24 percent of LGBT women expressed the same level of physical well-being.

As Fox writes, LGBT women are uniquely in need of the care they’re not receiving. A 2013 National Health Interview Survey from the Centers for Disease Control found that LGBT women are more prone to drinking and smoking than straight women, and what’s more, bisexuals often face psychological issues and struggle with their weight.

Compounding the problem is the fact that LGBT women generally don’t need birth control or raise children, and that keeps them out of doctors’ offices.

The solution, writes Fox, summarizing Gates’ words, will involve “collecting more information about people’s sexual orientation and gender identity and how it relates to their overall well-being.”

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