Thank you to Emma Kaeser, PT, DPT for her contributions to this post.
At Origin, we are on a mission to create a higher standard of care for every woman and mother in the United States. Each year, over 40M women experience pelvic floor dysfunction and full body issues, often related to maternity and menopause.
Yet the healthcare system is failing to meet their needs. Women, in general, are more likely to be misdiagnosed, ignored or denied by doctors, causing well-documented harm. Too often, patients are sent to surgery when physical therapy (PT) would suffice, and there are not nearly enough providers, with only several thousand pelvic floor physical therapists (PTs) nationwide, many of whom don’t take insurance.
We believe that everyone deserves access to safe, effective, and affordable physical therapy treatment. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many marginalized groups in the U.S.
The Stark Reality for LGBTQ+ Patients
Members of the LGBTQ+ community experience a healthcare system rife with discrimination, both explicit and systemic. They often encounter healthcare workers who ask inappropriate questions or are ill-informed about their specific experiences and healthcare needs. Lesbian and bisexual women have higher rates of breast cancer, HPV infection and a higher risk of cervical cancer. The risk of poorer health outcomes only increases when we look specifically at transgender folks, particularly when multiple marginalizations, including race, poverty, and disability, also intersect.
According to the 2015 Transgender Survey, approximately 33% of trans adults have experienced a negative interaction with a healthcare provider in the past year, while 23% had avoided seeking medical care for fear of being mistreated. This same research also suggests that nearly 1 in 10 trans individuals experienced a UTI or kidney infection in the past year related to avoidance of public bathrooms. These statistics are just the tip of the iceberg, but they illustrate the massive healthcare disparities and barriers to accessing medical care that transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming individuals face on a regular basis.
Looking at all these issues from an intersectional lens helps us understand how aspects of a person's identities (their gender, race, class, sexuality, disability, etc.) might combine to create unique forms of discrimination.
Sadly, inclusivity and accessibility are not yet a tenant of today’s healthcare system. At Origin, we are working to identify and close these gaps in care in partnership with many other organizations on the front lines.
LGBTQ+ Care at Origin
As a small company, we are proud to share the first steps we are taking to support the LGBTQ+ community.
Our entire team is trained in LGBTQ+ inclusivity, so whether you’re working with a PT or speaking to someone on our Client Experience team, you will be treated with respect and care – no matter who you love or how you identify. We are also working to make our spaces more inclusive and affirming, from universal accessible bathroom signs to refining the language we use in medical intake forms.
We’re grateful for the leadership of Emma Kaeser, PT, DPT, who has worked extensively on creating inclusive health education at the university level to better serve the LGBTQ+ community. She is also leading our LGBTQ+ training at Origin. She recently shared, “I feel so lucky to be a part of a company that is so dedicated to recognizing the shortcomings of modern healthcare and addressing them head on, including the specific inequities faced by LGBTQ+ folks.”
While our clinical team’s core competency is providing physical therapy services for those with natal vaginal anatomy, some of our PTs have training on the specific healthcare needs of trans folks, including pelvic floor PT after a vaginoplasty procedure. If our team is not able to support you, we will do our best to refer you out to other experts in the community who have the relevant expertise — and those we acknowledge as safe care providers.
Finally, a note on language and inclusivity. In many cases, our patients identify with the words “woman” or “mother,” so we use those terms generally throughout our website and practice and in relation to pregnancy and postpartum research focused on “woman-centered care.” We recognize that this language is limiting for many of our patients, particularly nonbinary people and other birthing folks, and plan to continue to build on it as we aim to create a safe, respectful and inclusive environment for all of our patients.
Ultimately, we hope our work inspires a bigger shift in inclusive care in the PT world and the healthcare system as a whole for people with diverse anatomies and identities.
If you have questions on whether we can help, or suggestions for how we can make this space more affirming to your identity and experiences, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.