Roughly 1 in 5 non-binary people in the United States are being denied medical care as a result of bias in the medical industry, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“As our society’s concept of gender evolves, so does the visibility of contemporary non-binary people,” states the study. “Yet many members of the medical community may not know how to interact with non-binary patients respectfully or recognize their unique needs and barriers to care.”
According to researchers, 19% of non-binary-identified people — including a wide variety of gender identities and expressions outside of the binary concepts of “man” and “woman” — have been refused care solely on the basis of their gender identity, with an additional 23% avoiding care due to concerns of discrimination.
Concerns over discrimination also increase if a non-binary person is also a person of color, disabled, low-income, or undocumented. Many also face economic hardships, and have avoided care as a result: 33% of those surveyed said they avoided care over cost concerns.
The report also speaks of the additional challenges faced by nonbinary children, including issues in school with unsupportive staff or bullying from peers.
The paper’s authors recommend specialty clinics, but recognize that not all nonbinary people may wish to use them – or even have access to one. They also recommend that intake forms and other records be updates to include updated pronouns options, in order to avoid creating, “a stigmatizing environment that hinders health care delivery.”
“If they have not already, physicians will encounter patients who do not identify as exclusively male or female,” the paper concludes. “Creating a welcoming environment, educating health care teams, and advancing crucial research will improve the care of our non-binary patients.”