Despite Lethbridge being the Alberta’s third largest city, Lethbridge still has progress to be made to support queer individuals in accessing the quality care they need. Fears of stigma, discrimination, and rejection often run through the minds of queer individuals trying to navigate and advocate for their health. Quality healthcare providers can help an individual accept and embrace the queer aspects of who they are and live a healthy life. We have made this resource guide to help queer individuals navigate the health system in Lethbridge to get the best service while accessing the services they deserve.

Often times when individuals think of “health” we limit ourselves to physical health. However, it is important to know that there are so many different areas of wellness that impact our daily lives which can be summarized as holistic health. When we use a holistic health lens, we recognize how an individual’s physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, mental, and social health all work together to impact how we think, feel, and interact with the world around us. When looking to care for your health, it is important to strive to care for all aspects of the holistic health wheel.

When trying to decide what services best suit your needs, it is important to remember that everyone is different.

For example, both you and a friend may experience anxiety but how you effectively treat and manage your anxiety may look very different. Your friend may find that seeing a counsellor every month may be enough to manage their anxiety, whereas you may find regular physical activity and medically treating your anxiety through a psychiatrist works best for you. A variety of different services targeting holistic health exist because everyone has different needs!

Since everyone is different, it is very important that you sit down and take an honest look at what you need as an individual. Some services may really appeal to you, whereas others may seem ineffective for your particular circumstance, and that’s 100% valid. You deserve stigma free support no matter what that support looks like to you. No matter how you perceive your concerns (whether they seem big or small), there are services out there for you, and you deserve to access them.

Seeking help from queer-affirming health care providers is often a priority within members of the queer community as it usually ensures they will get the accurate, respectful, and thoughtful service they need. Even outside of the health care system, it can be nice to know when you are being seen, served, or supported by someone who affirms your identity.

How can you tell if someone is queer friendly? Here are some of our tips:

  • Look for physical signs. Often times queer friendly health care professionals understand that it can be challenging for queer individuals to find a space where they are fully accepted and will make an effort to outwardly show their support of the queer community. Look for small pride flags, rainbow stickers, posters affirming the space you’re in is queer friendly, diverse images with same sex couples or gender diverse individuals around their office, or the active use of preferred names and pronouns. These are just a few ways to know the person you are interacting with is likely queer friendly.
  • Seek recommendations from the queer community around you. Often times fellow queer folks in our community are the best resources to connect you with queer friendly professionals.
  • ARCHES has worked to create a list of queer-affirming medical professionals and resources in the Lethbridge area specifically. Although this list is listed under our “Trans Health” tab, these medical professionals, resources, and businesses are inclusive to all LGBTQ2S+ folks and many are not specific to trans specific. To read this list, click here.

Seeking help from queer-affirming health care providers is often a priority within members of the queer community as it usually ensures they will get the accurate, respectful, and thoughtful service they need. Even outside of the health care system, it can be nice to know when you are being seen, served, or supported by someone who affirms your identity.

Finding a doctor that is both knowledgeable and supportive can also be a challenge. Often, health care professionals who may be supportive may not know how to best navigate doing so, or may lack the knowledge on how to best provide service to members of the queer community. It can sometimes be challenging to identify if someone is queer-friendly, and that’s why we have compiled a resource guide to help you find a queer-affirming doctor in the Lethbridge area!

Have you visited a doctor in the Lethbridge area who you thought was incredibly queer-affirming but isn’t on our list of queer-affirming doctors? Head on over to our Rate My Doctor webpage to submit information on your experience and what made your doctor awesome!

Remember that only you can know who can provide the best support for you, and it is important to trust your instincts with deciding who will provide health services to you!

Advocating for your needs within the healthcare system is not always easy, especially as a queer individual. Here are a few tips to help make navigating the healthcare system as seamless and empowering as possible.

1. Bring Someone

Ask your significant other, friend or family member you trust to go with you to your appointment. Not only can that person help be an emotional support, but their presence with you in the office can be more validating with the doctor seeing that someone vouches for your symptoms. It can also be a deterrent for some doctors to not speak over or dismiss the patient.


2. Documentation

Always ask your doctor for copies of any scan or test result, even if they come back negative. Official paperwork is important to bring with you to all specialists who may have a differing opinion about your illness. In a notebook, make sure to document any changes in your condition along with what may have triggered it (if applicable) and how long the symptoms lasted so you can relay the information to your doctor.


3. Research

Some conditions may have a host of treatments, but your doctor may suggest one you don’t prefer – if one is suggested at all. If you don’t have a diagnosis, doing your own researching online through medical journals and support groups may guide you in the right direction, leading to a formal diagnosis (or exclusion of) later.


4. Be Assertive

While many doctors thrive on learning more about the health profession, some professionals can become disgruntled at what they perceive to be a dig at their educational skills, background or judgment calls. No matter how difficult a professional may be, sticking to facts regarding your symptoms and clearly articulating what goals you have for the visit will get you answers – even if sometimes they’re not the ones you want.


5. Find Another Doctor

No matter how prepared or polite you are, there are times when the doctor you see isn’t the right fit. Whether it’s because your symptoms are outside of their specialty or their bedside manner is lacking, it is more important to move on than trying to “stay loyal” to a doctor who is not helping you. Find recommendations online or through other doctors and call their offices beforehand if you have any questions.