Even if some people are reluctant to reveal such data, research shows that clinicians overestimate how many patients would refuse to self-report. A 2017 study found that around 80 percent of doctors felt that patients would be reluctant to provide this data, but only 10 percent of patients said they would refuse to do so.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also stated that it should be optional for patients to report their gender identity. The ability to report yourself is key, according to proponents. “It’s important that people identify like any other demographic,” said Chris Grasso, vice president of information technology and data services at the Fenway Institute. “We want to normalize data collection – just like we ask people questions about their age, race, or ethnicity.”
Progress, but still a long way to go
LGBTQ advocates have been raising alarm bells throughout the pandemic, writing letters to health organizations and the new government, and asking authorities to report on coronavirus testing, care outcomes and vaccine intake in their communities.
Some states and jurisdictions have started moving forward: Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington, DC are collecting and reporting some of this data in their Covid-19 monitoring systems. And in September, the Governor of California signed a bill requiring healthcare providers to collect the data for all communicable diseases.
But it wasn’t until March that the California Department of Health hadn’t released its sexual orientation and gender identity statistics. And other officials raising concerns from those trying to keep their sexuality private have expressed concern about the gathering of this information. For example, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who is gay, said in a discussion with other elected officials in April 2020, “There are a lot of people in Colorado who don’t want this information out there.”
Despite the lack of data, the CDC notes that LGBTQ people may have more severe Covid-19 results than heterosexual people, in part due to a higher prevalence of pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cancer, obesity and smoking .