LGBTQ Affirmation as Care

LGBTQ Affirmation is Critical to Quality Healthcare

Tim R. Johnston, Director of National Projects at SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders), writes about the importance of providing affirmation in an excerpt from his book published on Scholars Strategy Network. He argues that affirmation is crucial to quality care and that patients who feel affirmed are more open and relaxed. Affirmations can provide patients with a safe space to express their identities and voice their concerns.

Johnston suggests that caretakers “look for the impact of affirming actions on the body language of the person” when determining which aspects of a patient’s identity to affirm. He also lists several practical implications of his argument:

  • A safe space is created when people are affirmed for their authentic selves. To ensure that such spaces exist, community norms and care practices should work to ensure that shared environments are welcoming to everyone.  

  • Being forced into environments at odds with personal identities makes people fearful and vigilant.  For example, many transgender people say this is how they feel when being forced to use bathrooms at odds with their identity.

  • When a person is experiencing harm, feeling unwelcome, or otherwise uncomfortable, those who want to help can consider what is being affirmed -- or disaffirmed – in the environment. For example, most retirement facilities only display photographs of heterosexual couples and families. This may make a LGBT people feel uncomfortable and unwelcomed.

You can read the excerpt on Scholars Strategy Network here: http://www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org/brief/affirmation-way-understand-and-create-safe-spaces-all-people