A report of the new Southern LGBTQ Health Survey found that a high number of LGBTQ Southerners—especially transgender Southerners—experience struggles with their health and the quality of health care they receive.
The report suggested that, while LGBTQ-friendly medical care is present in the South, it’s not available to everyone. Of the 5,617 participants from 13 southern states, 51.5 percent said living in the South made it more difficult for them to access quality health care.
This difficulty could be accredited to a lack of LGBTQ knowledge among health care providers. 47.5 percent of transgender respondents reported having to always or often educate their health care provider about LGBTQ identity.
There were also significant disparities found in poor mental health and suicidal ideation rates among LGBTQ Southerners, especially among bi+ individuals. 75-80 percent of bisexual, pansexual, and queer respondents reported being diagnose with or experiencing depression and 40 percent of the same group reported experiencing suicidal ideation.
These rates are disproportionate among those living in rural areas compared to those in urban regions—74.4 percent of rural Southerners reported experiencing depression, 64 percent experienced anxiety, and 36.6 percent took part in self-harming behaviors. These disparities could be due to lack of funding.
“While there has been a significant increase in funding resources to the LGBTQ South in recent years,” the survey reads, “most of that funding is directed toward established non-profit organizations in large metro areas and very little is currently reaching rural communities or grassroots organizers.”
Kayla Gore, the lead ambassador for the survey, told Buzzfeed News that the results of this survey are critical in understanding the LGBTQ experience in the South.
“We can tell our stories as many times as we want to to as many folks as we want, but a lot of people who are data-driven have to see the numbers,” Gore said. “Partnering stories with the data just makes a stronger case to increase access to health care for LGBTQ folks.”