The Jackson Medical Mall, a collection of medical offices and healthcare facilities, has a new LGBT mental health clinic.
UMMC psychiatrist, Dr. Kim Gratz, says certain prejudices against sexual preference and identity can discourage LGBT individuals from seeking care.
"For this particular population, there can be a hesitancy to just go any place, if there's not a certainty that this is a place that's going to be open and accepting," says Gratz.
Constance Gordon is from Jackson. She says a visit to one doctor reinforced lesbian stereotypes due to her masculine appearance.
"The perception is that we're not welcome anywhere from the beginning. I went to a doctor, and he came back and said 'Your tough. Your a tough girl'," Gordon says.
A visit to a more welcoming provider resulted in thorough examination and accurate diagnosis.
"I think a week later, I went to another clinic. She told me that I had an ulcer that would probably take me over a year to treat," says Gordon.
Dr. Gratz says instances like that are common. She believes health care should be ethical no matter sexual orientation or identity.
"We are really just opening up this clinic to anyone at all in the LGBT community who is interested in getting either psychiatric or psychological care. We really want to be able to highlight that this is a place you can come where you will not get that message," says Gratz.
Gratz says the clinic will also serve as a research center for LGBT health, and medical students will be trained to provide competent care for individuals within that population.