Evidence suggests that LBT women and non-binary people are more likely to experience health inequalities than their male and/or straight counterparts.

It’s well-known that the LGBTQ+ population experiences health inequalities (e.g. mental health issues) at higher rates than the general population. Unfortunately, there’s not as much research around health inequalities specifically among LB women. Nonetheless, there is emerging evidence suggesting that LBT women and non-binary people are even more likely to experience health inequalities than their male and/or straight counterparts.

So, here are some key stats about health inequalities among LBT women and non-binary people.

Experiences with general healthcare

LBT women, and LGBTQ+ people generally, are more likely to have negative experiences with accessing healthcare services than their straight and/or cisgender counterparts.

Research into LBT women’s experiences specifically is limited, so here are some general stats about LGBTQ+ people’s experiences with healthcare.

The 2018 National LGBT Survey found that:

  • 18% of people who accessed or tried to access public healthcare had a negative experience due to their sexual orientation
  • 38% had a negative experience due to their gender identity
  • 40% of trans people surveyed had negative experiences due to their gender identity

In another study, 24% of trans women reported that their gender-related needs were ‘ignored or not taken into account’ when using healthcare services.

In the Scottish Trans Equality Network’s ‘Non-binary Report’, participants reported difficulties related to their gender identity when accessing health services: 

  • 76.9% reported describing their gender identity in a ‘way that was not completely accurate’ when visiting their GP
    • 73.9% reported the same when using general NHS services
  • 60% surveyed ‘never’ felt comfortable being open about being non-binary when accessing general NHS services
    • 50% reported the same when visiting their GPs

These difficulties led to 84.2% of respondents feeling that their non-binary gender identity wasn’t valid and 62.7% being less likely to access services.

Mental health

There is clear evidence that LGBTQ+ people experience poor mental health and mental illness at higher rates than the rest of the population, and rates are even higher for LBT women and non-binary people. This pattern can be traced across all sorts of mental health problems, from anxiety and depression to self-harm and eating disorders. 

A 2018 Stonewall report found that, in the last year:

  • 72% of bi women and 60% of lesbians had experienced anxiety, as compared to 56% and 53% of bi and gay men, respectively.
  • 28% of bi women and 14% of lesbians had self-harmed.
  • 55% of LGBT women had experienced depression.
  • 5% of lesbians and 7% of bi women had attempted suicide, with 7% of POC and 10% of disabled lesbian/bi women attempting suicide.

In another study, 19.2% of lesbians, 30.5% of bi women, and 8.5% of trans respondents reported an eating disorder. 19% of trans respondents believed they had an ED but hadn’t been formally diagnosed.

And 40.5% of participants in the ‘Non-binary Report’ said ‘yes’ or ‘unsure’ to having mental health conditions.

There have also been reports of LBT women and non-binary facing problems when accessing mental health care. 

  • In one survey, 50.5% of cis LGBQ women and 53.5% of trans women said that accessing mental health services was ‘not easy’ or ‘not at all easy.’ 
  • In another study, 57.8% of non-binary people reported not being able to accurately describe their gender identity when accessing mental health services

Maternity and pregnancy

Although research is limited, there is evidence that lesbian, bisexual, and other women who have sex with women (LBWSW) who are in relationships with other women are facing issues and discrimination around maternity and pregnancy.

In ‘Let’s Break the Silence: A Guide to Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Women’s Health,’ participants reported:

  • Being given sexual health advice for heterosexual couples and women.
  • Being asked in a counselling session for fertility treatment ‘“what would happen if we had a boy?’’
  • Having their partner’s signature on a consent form for parental responsibility be denied.

Substance use

Substance use, especially binge drinking and smoking more generally, can cause physical health problems and contribute to mental health problems. 

While there is a lack of research around substance use among LB+ women, there is evidence that LBT women are using substances more than their heterosexual and/or cisgender counterparts:

  • It’s likely that 29% of lesbian and bisexual women binge drink as opposed to 12% of straight women.
  • In a 2012 study, 62% of trans people surveyed were either ‘abusing alcohol or categorised as alcohol dependent.’
  • Smoking rates are higher among LB women. In one study, 30.5% of bisexual women and 27.9% of lebsians reported smoking as compared to 18.8% of heterosexual people.

Sexual health

LBT women and non-binary people also face inequalities regarding sexual health.

Research has revealed that:

  • One report showed that less than half of LB women have been screened for STIs
    • And half who have been screened had an STI
  • In one study, 31% of non-binary people reported not using sexual health clinics for fear of ‘gendered assumptions.'
    • In the same study, ‘heterosexist assumptions’ were especially common when accessing sexual health services, leading to negative experiences

What next?


LGBT HERO’s forums are also a great place to find community. 

LGBT HERO also has a list of spaces specifically for LBT+ women. 

LGBT HERO's FindOut is a map of LGBTQ+ services across Greater London.

Switchboard has an LGBTQ+ helpline and other resources. Call them at 0300 330 0630.

LGBT Foundation also has an advice, support, and information line for LGBTQ+ people. Call them at 0345 3 30 30 30.

MindOut has great mental health resources for LGBTQ+ folks.

If you think therapy may be right for you, PinkTherapy has a directory of LGBTQ+-friendly therapists.

LGBT HERO has a list of alcohol and drug support services for LGBTQ+ people.

ELOP has a range of services for LGBTQ+ people.

Extra reading

If you’d like some more information and statistics on LBT women’s health and LGBTQ+ health in general, here’s some resources.

Let’s Break the Silence: A Guide to Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Women’s Health.’ 

LGBT HERO’s lockdown wellbeing report

LGBT HERO’s stats on LGBTQ+ mental health

Stonewall’s LGBT in Britain health report

The National LGBT Survey

The Scottish Trans Equality Network’s non-binary report.