Patients as People: Addressing the Barriers to Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Individuals
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Transgender and gender nonconforming individuals face obstacles throughout their lives connected to mislabeling and limitations placed on their affirmed gender identity and expression. Prior research by gender and medical scholars focuses on the stigma and discrimination these individuals face when interacting with medical professionals. However, one area that has been overlooked by sociologists is the impact of marginalization when receiving sexual and reproductive health care. This is a vital setting because it highlights the conflation of sex and gender by medical professionals and the unique challenges faced by non-binary individuals in these particular environments. Moving the discussion forward in this area, this thesis examined the sexual and reproductive health care experiences of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals, focusing on the interactions between patients and medical staff. I conducted in-depth interviews of individuals who identify as transgender or gender nonconforming and asked about their experiences when accessing sexual and reproductive health care. The findings suggest that transgender and gender nonconforming individuals encounter obstacles that mitigate opportunities to receive adequate sexual and reproductive health care, including poorly-trained medical staff, limited financial assistance, and insufficient sexual health education. To address these issues, significant attention must be given to the limitations of labels, mutual participation in medical encounters, and a restructuring of medical education and practices for health professionals.