This week, a spokesperson for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that starting in 2019, the agency will no longer ask questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on its Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a national annual telephone survey that collects data about American’s health-related risk behaviors. The omission of CDC LGBT health data will weaken the medical community’s ability to serve queer people, and it’s just the Trump administration’s latest attack on LGBTQ healthcare.
What is the BRFSS?
The BRFSS is a federal-state partnership that collects data in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories. It interviews more than 400,000 adults each year, making it the largest continuously conducted health survey system in the world.
If the BRFSS stops collecting data on LGBTQ health, then American medical organizations and health providers will be ill-equipped to respond to LGBTQ health disparities.
The Center for American Progress says LGBTQ people face lower rates of health insurance coverage, higher rates of stress due to systematic harassment and discrimination and a lack of cultural competency in the health care system. LGBT people are also at a higher risk for cancer, mental illness and other diseases, and are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, use drugs and engage in other risky behaviors.
In response, Kerith J. Conron, the Research Director at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law says, “The BRFSS is one of the few federally-supported data collection activities that make the needs of LGBT people known to governmental agencies responsible for the safety, health and welfare of the public. By removing LGBT measures from the BRFSS, the federal government is shirking its responsibility to LGBT Americans.”
This is the latest in Trump attack on LGBTQ healthcare
Trump recently installed a homophobic director for the CDC, has rolled back an Obama-era rule and protecting transgender people from healthcare discrimination and deleted public information about an American law forbidding anti-LGBTQ healthcare discrimination. His proposed healthcare plan would’ve been disastrous for LGBTQ people and the U.S. House narrowly defeated a bill that would’ve defunded medical coverage for transgender soldiers.