What about health for folks that aren’t straight?

Trigger Warning – this post discusses racism, slavery, oppression, misgendering, mental health problems, violence, and suicide. These references are brief, but please read at your own discretion.

If you identify on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum or are questioning compulsive heteronormativity in any way, you are so welcome here. I am so sick of the assumption that everybody is straight unless they come out and tell you otherwise. We’re here, and we’re queer! *pushes soapbox back into corner*

Person looking to the right with sun on their face, short hair, and a loose purple shirt.

Have you health care providers only recently started using your actual name? Are you constantly misgendered when you go to appointments? Are folks awkwardly asking you who you have had “marital relations” with?! Sadly, I know these experiences are all too familiar for most of my queer friends.

What you might not know if you haven’t been forced to read thousands of medical research studies, is that there is a very specific demographic of the folks in those studies. In general, if it’s not explicitly stated otherwise, research is done on young, white, straight, cis-gendered men or at least people that pass as such. Only recently have ground-breaking scientists (usually marginalized folks themselves) been able to diversify those that participate in research. There are lots of historical reasons for this from slavery to the Tuskegee Syphilis study to more recent supreme court decisions that jeopardize bodily autonomy. 

Black person sitting on a yellow grate with their left hand on their neck. Wearing earrings, a necklace of pearls, a black vest, and khaki shorts.

The health care community is just starting to realize the serious effects that this has on people that do not fit this typical research participant profile. We ignored the fact that black children cannot play outside safely. We ignored the health impact of being constantly misgendered, despite knowing that this drives increased rates of mental health problems and suicide. We ignored the fact that pharmacology is different in bodies of different sizes. We ignored the way that medications would affect brains of different ages. These oversights are dangerous to actual people who differ from the “ideal research participant”.

I cannot undo these centuries of oppression and marginalization. I can recognize that they may have an affect on your relationship to your health care providers. I can suggest ways to advocate for yourself when it seems that these types of bias and experiences are affecting your well being. I can listen and call on providers to do better going forward. I am so open to talk about these issues in respectful dialogue. If you are too, drop a comment or feel free to reach out to discuss more.

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