Redefining perinatal experience: A philosophical exploration of a hypothetical case of gender diversity in labour and birth

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Abstract

Objective and aims

Using a queer phenomenological approach, the objective of this philosophical analysis was to explore the transgender experience in highly gendered clinical areas, such as the birth unit, and make recommendations on how to provide perinatal care that is inclusive of gender diversity within these areas. This study aims to describe a hypothetical clinical experience to provide insight on the institutional barriers that currently exist and to provide nurses and midwives with pragmatic strategies to enhance gender-diverse care in general and gendered clinical areas.

Background

Currently, general healthcare providers are not sufficiently educated on how to care for and meet the needs of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or questioning and other communities (LGBTQ+). This vulnerable population continually faces stigma, discrimination and marginalisation, which act as barriers to accessing healthcare services. Although transgender people often have difficulty accessing health care in general settings, they experience an even greater challenge within traditionally gendered clinical care areas.

Design

Queer phenomenology was used to guide a critical philosophical analysis of hypothetical case reflecting a clinical scenario regarding a transgender man's experience in labour and birth.

Discussion

Healthcare professionals often provide insufficient care to transgender persons, inadvertently leading to further marginalisation of this vulnerable population. Special consideration to provide gender-diverse care throughout the perinatal period is needed. Structures and supports are essential to enhance the care from providers in attending to the unique needs of transgender individuals and reduce oppressive effects from heteronormative environments.

Relevance to clinical practice

Nurses and midwives are leading exemplars of providing person-centred care and are capable of advocating for equitable care amongst all populations to influence systemic change. Strategies for implementing changes that address LGBTQ+ health needs and specific recommendations for providing gender-diverse care in the perinatal settings are discussed.

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