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LGBTQ Medical Pioneers

June 7, 2024
LGBTQ Medical Pioneers
June 7, 2024

At ZoomDoc, we are proud to support Pride Month from celebrating LGBTQ medical pioneers past and present, to ensuring our healthcare services are available to all patients, whatever their gender identity and sexual orientation. 

Pride Month may have a celebratory feel – and rightly so – but when it comes to healthcare equality, there’s still a long way to go.

Recent figures suggest that despite the amazing efforts of LGBTQ pioneers, there are still huge inequalities in healthcare, particularly when it comes to mental health.

According to the UK’s Mental Health Foundation, ‘around one in eight LGBTIQ+ people have experienced unequal treatment from healthcare staff because they are LGBTIQ+. One in seven have avoided treatment for fear of discrimination.’

Its findings come from a 2018 Stonewall: LGBT in Britain report that also revealed:

  • half of LGBTIQ+ people had experienced depression, and three in five had experienced anxiety
  • one in eight LGBTIQ+ people aged 18 to 24 had attempted to end their life
  • almost half of trans people had thought about taking their life.

Here at ZoomDoc, our doctors are here and ready to see you, help you and support you through Pride Month, and beyond.

‘We feel really strongly about inclusion within healthcare and urge our patients to talk to a GP if they are struggling with any health issue. We have seen and heard everything so be assured that help is available and don’t suffer in silence,’ says ZoomDoc Chief Medical Officer and GP, Dr Kenny Livingstone.

Keep reading to find out more about Pride’s influence on healthcare – and how ZoomDoc can help support you with your medical needs.

History Of Pride Month


LGBTQ Pride Month traces its roots back to the 1969 Stonewall riots, which started on June 28, 1969.


Every June the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) communities come together to celebrate and be celebrated.

Cities around the world, such as New York, San Francisco, Sao Paolo, London, Brighton and Sydney put up rainbow flags in recognition of Pride celebrations and host concerts, parades, rallies and parties to show support and solidarity for all genders and sexualities. 

What began as riots in New York City (known as the Stonewall riots) back in 1969 soon turned into a day of celebration and – 30 years on – was officially extended into Pride Month, a month-long event raising awareness and support for the LGBTQ+ communities around the world. 


LGBTQ medical pioneers


From groundbreaking research to tireless advocacy, the LGBTQ+ community have played in shaping a healthier future for all.


Healthcare is no place for discrimination and as Pride Month commemorates members of the LGBTQ community who’ve made their mark in history, ZoomDoc commemorates some of its members who’ve made a difference in medicine – particularly in support of gender identity and sexuality. 

Here are some examples of LGBTQ medical pioneers: 

Dr Magnus Hirschfield – in 1897, Hirschfield co-founded the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, one of the first organisations to promote gay and transgender equality. A true pioneer, he believed in legal rights for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Dr Alan Hart – in 1917, Dr Hart was one of the first individuals to have undergone female-to-male gender reassignment surgery in history, with the removal of their womb through a hysterectomy procedure.

Dr Pauli Murray – in the 1960s, Dr Murray helped lay the groundwork for the legal recognition of gender discrimination and created a pathway for LGBTQ+ rights in healthcare and beyond.

Cherry Valentine – drag queen and mental health nurse Cherry was a trailblazer for self-expression and community using their platform to speak up and out about mental health awareness. Their suicide in 2022 left a huge hole in the LGBTQ community’s hearts but their legacy lives on.

Dr Ranj Singh – most people will have heard of TV’s Dr Ranj, a paediatrician who uses his social media platform to address health issues, promote diversity, challenge stereotypes, contributing to a more inclusive healthcare landscape for both doctors and patients. 

Dr Michael Brady – Dr Brady, an HIV and Sexual Health consultant at Kings College Hospital in London, was appointed as the National Advisor for LGBT Health at NHS England in April 2019 to help address health inequalities for LGBT individuals and improve experience in the NHS. 

LGBTQIA+ Healthcare Concerns and Barriers

Medical pioneers have been championing equality and inclusion for centuries now. But as mentioned above, there is still work to be done. 

Some of the key issues LGBTQIA+ patients face in the healthcare profession include:

  • discrimination
  • specific needs not being met
  • poorer experience
  • major concerns about accessing healthcare

Acknowledging the need for improvements, the NHS said these issues are ‘unacceptable, and we need to increase our efforts to address these health inequalities.’

Gender Identities in Healthcare

According to recent NHS research that surveyed over 108,000 members of the LGBTQ+ communities, ‘80% of trans respondents who accessed or tried to access gender identity clinics said it was not easy, with long waiting times the most common barrier.’

Offering support is key and the British Medical Association (BMA) makes clear that inclusive language should be used to address patients. 

It says that ‘doctors, medical students and other health care workers, and non-clinical staff, should address transgender and non-binary patients as they would prefer to be addressed. If in doubt, an opportunity should be found to discreetly ask the individual which form of address they prefer, and how they see their own gender identity.’


Transgender Healthcare


Trans and non-binary health particular needs may be best addressed by transgender health services offered by NHS gender dysphoria clinics (GDCs).


Trans or transgender refers to people whose gender identity is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. 

In the same NHS survey mentioned above, ‘40% of trans respondents who had accessed or tried to access public healthcare services reported having experienced at least one of a range of negative experiences because of their gender identity in the 12 months preceding the survey.’

The BMA says that outside of trans-related care such as gender clinics, trans and non-binary patients have the same healthcare needs as other patients. It is therefore likely that all doctors will provide care to someone in this group of patients at some stage. An understanding of the issues involved is necessary to ensure high quality general medical care is provided and, where necessary, appropriate referrals are made to specialist services.’

Common issues for trans patients could include:

  • depression
  • long-term conditions and illnesses
  • gender dysphoria
  • hormone testing

ZoomDoc at-home Testosterone Level Tests and Female Hormones that you can do in the privacy of your own home.

Travelling with hormone tablets

If you’re travelling with hormone medication, such as testosterone – considered a controlled drug – this can be problematic depending on where you’re travelling to.

Your best bet is to make sure your medication is in the original pharmacy packaging with your name on it. 

UK Government guidance adds: 

‘To make sure your medicine does not get taken away from you at the border, carry a letter of proof that the medicine was prescribed to you.’

[CTA] Travelling with your hormone medication? Request a Travel with Medication letter today


LGBTQ Mental Health

Not being heard or listened to, or struggling with your sexuality without support can all make you more prone to mental health struggles.

According to the mental health charity Mind, some of the mental health problems LGBTQIA+ people are more likely to have include:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • PTSD
  • eating problems
  • low self-esteem
  • stress
  • suicidal feelings. 

(CTA) Download our app to speak to one of our GPs about your mental health today

Alternatively, to get a referral to a specialist without waiting to see a GP, order our GP Referral letter so you can get on with making your appointment stress-free.

LGBTQ Sexual Health


The evidence that LGBT+ people have disproportionately worse health outcomes and experiences of healthcare is both compelling and consistent.


LGBTQ sexual health encompasses a broad range of issues that are crucial for the well-being of individuals within the community, including access to comprehensive, inclusive healthcare services that address unique needs related to sexual orientation and gender identity. 

This involves education on safe sex practices, prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia, and mental health support to combat stigma and discrimination. Most importantly, it covers the importance of culturally competent care that respects and acknowledges diverse experiences and identities, ensuring that all individuals receive respectful and effective medical attention. Promoting LGBTQ sexual health also means advocating for policy changes that protect and advance the rights of LGBTQ individuals, fostering environments where they can seek and receive care without fear of bias or prejudice.

LGBTQ Discrimination in Healthcare

From waiting times to not being heard, the Stonewall report found that:

  • Almost one in four LGBT people (23%) have witnessed discriminatory or negative remarks against LGBT people by healthcare staff
  • In the last year alone, six per cent of LGBT people – including 20% of trans people – have witnessed these remarks.
  • One in seven LGBT people (14%) have avoided treatment for fear of discrimination because they’re LGBT.

‘The evidence that LGBT+ people have disproportionately worse health outcomes and experiences of healthcare is not acceptable. Every ZoomDoc GP will treat patients fairly and compassionately, whatever their gender or sexuality and however that may have changed since birth,’ says Dr Kenny.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are LGBTQ underrepresented in medicine?

The most recent study that looked into this concluded that ‘it is difficult to know whether LGBTQ populations are underrepresented in medicine.’ This is possibly due to lack of data and a lack of LGBTQ healthcare workers not being ‘out’ in their work environment.

What is the medical term LGBTQ?

LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer or Questioning and is an abbreviation to describe this combined community.  

The LGBTQ acronym is often extended to or LGBTQ+ or to LGBTQIA to include intersex and asexual communities as well.

How to improve LGBTQ healthcare?

Communication is key to improving LGBTQ community’s experience of healthcare.

Recommendations from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) who looked into this very topic included doctors making sure they:

  • use neutral language that does not make assumptions
  • make sure questions about identity are relevant to care
  • show signs of LGBTQ+ inclusivity (within healthcare settings).

Kindness, compassion and no judgement will go a long way in improving healthcare and targeting discrimination that has no place at doctor’s appointments.

Want to know more?

Our team of Doctors are available via the ZoomDoc App for any medical questions or queries.