Being LGBTQ in the COVID-19 era

July 1, 2020

From the July-August 2020 issue of News & Letters

The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting minority communities especially hard. The LGBTQ community is no exception. Due to economic hardship, many LGBTQ people move back in with their families. This can be dangerous because many families are not supportive or are hostile toward their LGBTQ member.


Transgender people are particularly hard hit. In the COVID-19 era, many Transgender people’s transition surgeries have been delayed. Some LGBTQ people do not want their sexual orientation or gender identity disclosed to healthcare workers out of a justifiable fear of discrimination. Donald Trump and his administration continue their efforts to allow healthcare providers to delay or refuse medical care due to the provider’s religious beliefs, even after those efforts were struck down by federal judges in 2019. On the grounds of that edict, though, Transgender man Evan Minton was denied medically necessary treatment this year.

The pandemic is increasing the hardships they face in employment and healthcare and increasing homelessness. Before the pandemic, it was documented that Transgender people experienced those hardships more than their cisgender peers. For more information on healthcare rights—including mental healthcare—Transgender people can go to

LGTBQ people suffer more from mental illness, in part because many of us are rejected by our families, friends and much of society. We also experience more food and healthcare insecurity. About 17% of Queer U.S. citizens do not have health insurance. Many of the same states with no civil rights protections for LGBTQ people did not expand Medicaid under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. LGBTQ youth experience a higher rate of homelessness, which is exacerbated by this pandemic. The disparities get worse for Queer persons of color.

In South Korea, an anonymous individual was pinpointed as the partygoer who infected 79 people with COVID-19. Because he had gone barhopping in the trendy Itaewon neighborhood where LGBTQ people gather, LGBTQ people were being verbally harassed as the cause of a second spike of COVID-19. If Queer people avoid getting tested or treated out of fear of being outed, Queer activist group Chingusai says, reduction of the new spread will be delayed.


Gay couple Fabio Vlana and Daniel Schepers were spat on by teenagers in Amsterdam who also assaulted them with homophobic slurs. In Kampala, Uganda, police arrested Queer people, at their shelter, for the crime of spreading COVID-19. Clearly, Queer people are being scapegoated.

Transgender rights groups in California (see “Queer Notes,” N&L, May-June 2020) are calling for an Emergency Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund for California state.

Other organizations that LGBTQ people can reach out to for the latest news and resources at this pandemic time include Lambda Legal and GLMA-US in the U.S., Chingusai in South Korea, Elton John AIDS Foundation, OutRight Action International and Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights.


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