Recently, we’ve had several lectures about the transgender and transsexual communities and the issues they face in the medical setting. It was pretty eye opening to learn about the discrimination and harassment that many in that community face when they go to see professionals whose job it is to take care of them.
After hearing a lot of statistics and numbers, I started to realize that people generally try to fit others into a box. For instance, if you’re a male, you must have attributes X, Y, and Z. If you’re an Asian, you must possess characteristics A, B, and C. The list goes on. As physicians, we do this on another level. We know that African Americans are more likely to develop certain illnesses. We know that Asians are more likely to have a certain side effect to medications. However, even though the statistic may be that X% of someone belonging to a certain group will develop something, that most certainly does not mean that all members of that group will develop it. In fact, there’s (1-X)% of them that will not.
So what exactly am I trying to say? I think too often we immediately try to assume things about patients and people based on these boxes we’ve created for them. However, there are times where an individual may not meet some of these criteria. So maybe instead of assuming, we should strive to eliminate all of our biases, and approach a patient as an individual rather than a member of a group.