For many people fear can be a barrier in finding healthcare. For some it is fear of judgment in identifying as LGBT. For others it is a fear of cultural differences. In both cases, Deb Thorp, MD, works to calm fears and treat health issues in diverse communities.

Her goal of improving care is not new. Dr. Thorp has been seeing transgender patients for over 25 years, at Methodist Hospital and the Park Nicollet Gender Services Clinic. She saw early on that the LGBT community is at greater risk some diseases and have less access to healthcare. Lack of acceptance can cause LGBT patients to avoid the doctor. These patients also tend to have more mental health issues. This can mean higher rates of substance abuse and suicide.

That is why Dr. Thorp hosts education sessions for colleagues. She also serves with the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition and Rainbow Health Initiative. Through these efforts she improves care by providing basic services and screenings for transgender patients who may not be able to otherwise find a doctor.

In addition to her work with LGBT patients, she creates reproductive health education materials for Somali women and has fought against genital “cutting.” She is able to do this through her interactions with Somali patients, especially when discussing their children.

Fear is not a reason for people to lack healthcare. By reducing fear and improving education, Dr. Thorp makes good happen.

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