New report on LGBTQ Latinas and Reproductive Health spotlights overlooked needs

A new issue brief from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) finds that LGBTQ Latinas face unique reproductive health and immigration challenges, which are often overlooked. Nearly half of all immigrants in the United States are of Latino origin.

According to the brief author, Verónica Bayetti Flores, senior policy analyst at NLIRH, “although the amount of research on LGBTQ health has increased steadily over the last decade, research that focuses on LGBTQ people, Latinas, and the intersecting reproductive health needs of these communities is still sorely lacking.”

“More immediately, what this analysis shows is that finding providers that are adequately competent in and sensitive to the linguistic, cultural and particular health needs and concerns of the LGBTQ community can prove exceedingly difficult. Yet preventive health care is vital for keeping Latinas healthy and safe.”

Latinas have higher rates of cervical cancer, and research indicates that lesbians may be less likely to receive annual or routine Pap smears. Latinas report that they are more likely to perceive bias by providers and have difficulty accessing safe, high quality sexual health and pregnancy-related care; LGBTQ Latinas may be among the most impacted women regarding these biases.

The report also examines the barriers LGBTQ immigrants and their families face to accessing health care and residency status, and the hardships they endure, including threats of violence.

For example, in immigration detention, LGBTQ people are subject to harms specifically due to their sexual orientation, gender identity and family status. Cases of transgender immigrant detainees experiencing sexual assault at the hand of detention officers, denial of health care (including hormone treatment), and even death have been reported.

“This report makes crystal clear that we need to be doing more to represent the needs of all Latinas, without regard to sexual orientation, gender identity, or immigration status.  NLIRH is calling on activists in the reproductive health and immigration movements to recognize the critical intersections on theses issues for the people they serve”, added Bayetti Flores.

Additional points explored in the report include:

Preventive reproductive health services are very gendered, negatively affecting the health of transgender people, or anyone who does not conform to normative gender presentations.
Employment discrimination reduces access to quality health services. There are currently no federal non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ in employment
Limited definitions of family in immigration law and bias towards gender and sexual identity can result in deportations, violence and intimidation for LGBTQ Latinas.


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