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From revamping STD testing to finding LGBTQ-friendly healthcare providers, these gay healthcare startups are working towards making healthcare more equitable for the LGBTQ community.
As national LGBT Pride Month celebrations carry on in cities throughout the U.S. and GOP senators in Washington draft a half-baked healthcare bill, it’s important to keep LGBTQ health at the forefront of our national dialogue. People in the LGBTQ community face a variety of health disparities due to social discrimination and a lack of culturally competent care.
In the spirit of Pride, we’ve highlighted five startups that are working to advance LGBTQ healthcare equality in America. By making healthcare more accessible, safe and inclusive for members of the LGBTQ community, these startups don’t just enhance the health and well-being of queer Americans–they are working to build a healthier nation for all.
QSPACES (Philadelphia, PA)
A gay healthcare startup that helps connect people to LGBTQ-friendly healthcare providers.
Anti-LGBTQ attitudes have long pervaded healthcare and, all too often, feeling unwelcome in medical settings can prevent LGBTQ folks from getting the care they need. But receiving respectful and competent care shouldn’t be a luxury reserved for straight people.
That’s why Nic Anthony and Catherine Hofman founded QSPACES, a website which connects people with healthcare providers who are LGBTQ-friendly. Anthony and Hofman were inspired to start QSPACES in 2016 after noticing that many of their friends and community members were using social media to share information about LGBTQ-friendly doctors.
On QSPACES’s website and app, people can find, rate, and review healthcare providers on LGBTQ-friendliness and competency. Everyone deserves to feel safe and cared for when they go to the doctor. QSPACES is helping those in the LGBTQ community access quality care from doctors they trust.
MyTransHealth (New York, NY)
Ensuring all trans and gender-nonconforming people receive high-quality, competent care.
Finding a good doctor is never easy, but for trans people it can be especially difficult to find one attuned to the specific needs of transgender individuals. In 2015, Kade Clark partnered with Amelia Gapin and Robyn Kanner to start MyTransHealth (MTH), a location-based website that connects the trans community with reliable, informed, and respectful medical providers.
MyTransHealth’s search tool enables users to search for trans-friendly providers in unique specialty areas, from allergies and endocrinologists to mental health specialists and GRS surgeons. MTH is on a mission to ensure that all trans and gender-nonconforming folks can access high quality, culturally competent medical services. MyTransHealth founders hope their product will result in fewer trans people walking away from doctors’ offices frustrated, or feeling as if their doctor couldn’t treat their needs.
Mately (New York, NY)
An STD testing service combining home collection, lab testing, and dating app integration.
Mately, a health tech startup seeking to upend a decades-old STD testing model, is what would happen if 23andMe and Grindr had a baby. “Let’s Take STD Testing Out of the Stone Age,” reads the tagline of the New York-based startup, which is currently crowdfunding its launch with an Indiegogo campaign. If Mately sounds vaguely familiar to you, it might be because the company found itself in an uncomfortable position last year after it ran online ads portraying Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie looking at their HIV test results. But negative press aside, the vision behind Mately is really quite innovative.
Mately’s first product will be an STD test subscription service that combines home collection, lab-based testing, electronic result disclosure, and dating app integration. A convenient way to be screened for STDs and a tool to initiate the conversation with prospective partners about sexual health. What more could you want?
The Hite Law Group (New Orleans, LA)
Attorneys serving the unique needs of the LGBTQ community and survivors of intimate partner abuse.
Nicholas J. Hite founded The Hite Law Group in 2013 to provide affordable, high-quality legal service to families in the LGBTQ community and survivors of intimate partner abuse. Hite and his colleagues travel across Louisiana, handling cases involving LGBTQ families, Latinx individuals, and unique cases of abuse and assault.
In an effort to provide its services to people of all income levels, The Hite Law Group uses sliding-scale fees; if you don’t earn very much, Hite won’t charge very much (an important consideration in a country where queer individuals earn 10 percent to 32 percent less than their similarly qualified heterosexual peers). The group also maintains strong relationships with social organizations along the gulf coast in an effort to connect clients with other support services.
AsylumConnect (Seattle, WA | Philadelphia, PA)
The first online resource database for LGBTQ asylum seekers in the United States.
Held in detention while awaiting a hearing or deportation, LGBTQ immigrants must choose between being closeted or becoming vulnerable to abuse and violence. Upon release, they often lack the personal and professional support systems that other immigrants find among fellow nationals.
It is in these politically charged times that UPenn alumni Sayid Abdullaev and Katie Sgarro launched AsylumConnect, the first website and mobile app to feature an online, centralized resource database for LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S. The AsylumConnect catalog helps persecuted LGBTQ people identify and access resources upon their arrival in the U.S. and is currently available in Seattle, WA and Philadelphia, PA. Abdullaev and Sgarro want to create catalogs for all major U.S. cities and ultimately streamline the safe integration of LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S.
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