The increasing visibility of transgender people and others who do not conform to traditional gender norms challenges medical professionals to think about gender and communication in new ways. This is according to an essay from the National LGBT Health Education Center illustrating ways to interact respectfully and affirmatively with non-binary people (those who have a gender identity that is not exclusively girl/woman or boy/man) throughout the patient care experience. A small but growing body of research indicates that non-binary people experience high levels of societal victimization and discrimination and are misunderstood by clinicians. Using language that is inclusive of all gender identities can reduce these burdens and barriers, the authors suggest. This includes avoiding assumptions about patients' gender identities, asking for information about name and pronouns and using these consistently throughout the clinical setting, and describing anatomy and related terms with gender-inclusive language. These communication approaches, according to the essay, can help clinicians offer patient-centered care that moves beyond binary gender concepts.
Communicating With Patients Who Have Nonbinary Gender Identities
Alex S. Keuroghlian, MD, MPH, et al
The Fenway Institute, Boston, Massachusetts