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Theoretical feminist perspectives of medicine have dated in literature at least as far back as the second wave movement of the 1970s. However, we now reach a fulcrum wherein the medical profession is increasingly required to develop these ideas into principles of practice. As a more spectrum-based concept of gender has arrived from the fringes to the forefront of society, it is crucial that we address the shortfalls of our healthcare systems in order to offer best practice in an empowering, feminist manner. Whilst many might argue that this steeps doctors in political rather than medical responsibility, we cannot ignore the epidemiology that supports how our experiences of gender can undeniably affect our health.
My interest in this field arose from both the paper through which you contacted me (Society, Sexuality and Medicine in Hogarth’s Marriage A-la-Mode) and a systematic review I conducted in 2018, under the title Barriers to Healthcare and Disclosure of LGBT+ Identity for Transgender Males in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. This brought to light how gender minorities are often found to be marginalized by the very infrastructure of our healthcare system, despite medicine’s founding principle: “first do no harm”. During a conference at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London earlier this summer, we held a debate over whether the problems of everyday life are being over-medicalized. It struck me throughout that both houses offered arguments directly related to gender and sexuality. For those believing in the statement, points were based on how the DSM once contained homosexuality and gender dysphoria as a psychiatric condition. For those against, the gendered phenomenon of male suicide was not being approached from a sufficiently medical angle.
These debates are under the realm of the discussions I would like to propose for this special issue. I would like to produce a collection of works that take on core medical conditions affected by gender perspectives (suicide, endometriosis, transgender care). Ideally, I would hope to reach out to professionals and academics who are affected by, or at least well versed in approaching, these issues. Whilst this might seem slightly out of left field for the American Journal of Internal Medicine, in that it is less focused on medicine, I believe that is only through taking a step back and approaching medicine more anthropologically that we are able to take a more holistic approach to addressing the patient experience. We are increasingly attuned to the complexities of comorbidities and polypharmacy, but often the intersectional nature of social determinants of health is missed. I would hope that through this issue, gender might be better established as one of these determinants, and thus addressed accordingly.
Madeleine Noelle Olding,
Pages: 78-83 Published Online: Mar. 18, 2020
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