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Essay Natural Sciences Nonfiction Social Sciences

Communicating With Patients Who Have Nonbinary Gender Identities

By Hilary Goldhammer, Sula Malina, and Alex S. Keuroghlian, 2018

The increasing visibility of transgender people and others who do not conform to traditional gender norms challenges us to think about gender in new ways, and to use new terminology when communicating with patients. People who describe themselves as nonbinary have a gender identity that is not exclusively girl/woman or boy/man. A small but growing body of research indicates they experience high levels of societal victimization and discrimination, and are misunderstood by health care clinicians. Using language that is inclusive of all gender identities can reduce these burdens and barriers. In this essay, we use a case scenario that illustrates ways to interact respectfully and affirmatively with nonbinary people throughout the patient care experience.

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