Helping Lighthouse users find medical professionals they can trust is key because more than 50 percent of LGBTQ+ people “experience some form of discrimination in healthcare settings at some point in their lives,” according to the Lighthouse website. Those who do are three times more likely to postpone follow-up care. “Being gay, for example, was labeled as a ‘disorder’ by the medical community and the mental health community up until 1973, so there’s a level of distrust there,” Fager said. “… So people don’t really know where to turn for an LGBTQ- affirming provider. I mean, you can do a search on Google, but it’s just very limited. You don’t know who to trust so generally when an LGBTQ+ person walks into a doctor’s office or a therapist’s office, there’s usually a real level of hesitance.” According to Fager, many LGBTQ+ individuals think to themselves, ‘I don’t know if I can bring my full self into this room,’ which may explain why 43 percent of adults ages 45-70 don’t disclose their sexual orientation to their healthcare provider.
For transgender people, the distrust in the medical community is often greater, as one in five trans patients have been denied healthcare because of their gender identity. “We hear so many negative experiences about people walking into offices where they just don’t feel validated, and they don’t feel safe,” Fager added. “So [with] what we’re doing at Lighthouse, we just want to make it incredibly simple and easy for queer people to find providers that are close by … that they know they can walk into the office and bring their whole self into the room.”