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‘That’s a bit gay for work’: medicine is not doing enough for LGBTQ+ colleagues
  1. Vassili Crispi1,2,
  2. William Lawrence Ballard3,4
  1. 1Department of Neurosurgery, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds, UK
  2. 2Leeds Institute for Medical Research, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  3. 3Hull York Medical School, Hull, Kingston upon Hull, UK
  4. 4Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, NHS Grampian, Aberdeen, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Vassili Crispi, Department of Neursurgery, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds, UK; vassilicrispi{at}

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Medicine as a profession should reflect the population it is responsible for. Therefore, workforce diversity is essential to improve care for marginalised groups. Although significant steps have been taken to acknowledge the issues of gender discrimination, attainment gap and racism, the system still fails educating and taking comprehensive actions to address these inequalities. Furthermore, the literature offers meagre evidence on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and other identities (LGBTQ+) representation in the profession and on the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ medical trainees. As a result, we must ask ourselves whether we fully understand the importance of proactive LGBTQ+ representation, inclusion and education in encouraging future trainees, students and applicants in joining our ranks.

This paper will explore current issues in LGBTQ+ policies and the known and hidden challenges faced by LGBTQ+ trainees. Finally, the paper will discuss potential steps to achieve LGBTQ+ inclusion in the medical profession to benefit colleagues and patients.


We start by defining LGBTQ+ terminology adopted throughout the paper, which may be unknown to some readers due to lack of awareness, stigma surrounding some terms, and their scarce use in scientific and everyday literature.

  • LGBTQ+—a commonly adopted acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and other identities, including asexual, pansexual, etc.

  • Queer—a reclaimed umbrella term used by those who identify with multiple identities or as another individual identity in the community. Although initially used as a slur, the term was reclaimed in the late 1980s.

  • Heteronormative—views which promote heterosexuality as the preferred sexual orientation.

  • Cis-gender—relates to a person whose identity and gender correspond with their birth sex.

  • Allyship—the status of someone who advocates and works for the inclusion of marginalised groups, who is not a group member but in solidarity with its struggle and point of view.

Where do we stand right now?

LGBTQ+ civil rights have significantly advanced in the …

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  • Twitter @VassiliCrispi, @ickyplod

  • Contributors The idea for this paper was born in the desire to increase LGBTQ+ representation within undergraduate and postgraduate medical training, changing the shape of our profession and its culture. VC and WLB are both LGBTQ+ advocates and members of the community. As such, they have both openly spoken about their journeys and experiences in public forums, raising awareness and calling for action. VC has reached out to numerous colleagues and members of the LGBTQ+ community for input, advice and guidance with this paper. WLB has advised on the overall trajectory of this letter and its purpose.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.