Gender is a concept with many facets. Everyone has a gender expression. Can learning about gender expression help healthcare professionals provide better and more effective treatment plans for the LGBTQ+ community?
Table of Contents
Gender expression refers to the ways that individuals present their gender identity and themselves. This can be clothing, haircuts, behaviors, etc. For many, there can be confusion between what society expects from their gender and how these individuals choose to present themselves. Gender expression is constructed from the culture that surrounds it, meaning that there may be a shared social expectation about gender. It can also mean that the same feminine hair or clothing style in one setting could be seen as masculine in another.
- Society tries to regulate expression by making women wear certain kinds of clothes, and men other kinds, in order to participate in school, work, and when in public.
- When cultures enforce gender norms it is known as gender policing, which can range from dress codes to physical and emotional punishment.
- Creating a safe space for all genders requires awareness of these explicit or implicit gender norms so policing can be prevented. (José A Bauermeister, et al., 2017)
- Research has shown that there are increased rates of discrimination against transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals compared with bias against those who are LGBTQ. (Elizabeth Kiebel, et al., 2020)
- Gender expression can and does affect access to and quality of health care.
- Individuals with a gender expression that is different from what is expected for their assigned sex at birth may experience increased bias and harassment from providers. (Human Rights Watch. 2018)
- A significant percentage of patients feared health workers would treat them differently because of their expression. (Cemile Hurrem Balik Ayhan et al., 2020)
- Minority stress has been shown to play an important role in health imbalances. (I H Meyer. 1995)
- Research suggests that gender expression is a part of the minority stress described by cisgender sexual minorities and gender minorities. (Puckett JA, et al., 2016)
- The effects of gender expression are different depending on a person’s sex, gender identity, and their setting.
- However, doctors do need to know a person’s sex that was assigned at birth to be able to do proper screening tests, like screening for prostate or cervical cancer.
- One way to be more affirming is for the doctor to introduce themselves first, using their own pronouns.
- Health workers should ask everyone what name they prefer to be called and what pronouns they use.
- This simple act invites the patient to share without creating awkward uneasiness.
Each person chooses how to present themselves to the world, and we respect all. We at Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic will work to address the effects of minority stress on health disparities and raise awareness of the ways to continually improve positive experiences for LGTBQ+ individuals seeking inclusive health care for neuromusculoskeletal injuries, conditions, fitness, nutritional, and functional health.
Bauermeister, J. A., Connochie, D., Jadwin-Cakmak, L., & Meanley, S. (2017). Gender Policing During Childhood and the Psychological Well-Being of Young Adult Sexual Minority Men in the United States. American journal of men’s health, 11(3), 693–701. doi.org/10.1177/1557988316680938
Kiebel, E., Bosson, J. K., & Caswell, T. A. (2020). Essentialist Beliefs and Sexual Prejudice Toward Feminine Gay Men. Journal of homosexuality, 67(8), 1097–1117. doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2019.1603492
Human Rights Watch. “You Don’t Want Second Best”—Anti-LGBT Discrimination in US Health Care.
Ayhan, C. H. B., Bilgin, H., Uluman, O. T., Sukut, O., Yilmaz, S., & Buzlu, S. (2020). A Systematic Review of the Discrimination Against Sexual and Gender Minority in Health Care Settings. International journal of health services: planning, administration, evaluation, 50(1), 44–61. doi.org/10.1177/0020731419885093
Meyer I. H. (1995). Minority stress and mental health in gay men. Journal of health and social behavior, 36(1), 38–56.
Puckett, J. A., Maroney, M. R., Levitt, H. M., & Horne, S. G. (2016). Relations between gender expression, minority stress, and mental health in cisgender sexual minority women and men. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 3(4), 489–498. doi.org/10.1037/sgd0000201
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The information herein on "Gender Expression: LGBTQ+ Inclusive Healthcare" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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