Discrimination in the Medical Field

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I think that you have “The GRID.” In 1982, such sentence used to terrify the medical staff as they said it, more than the patients themselves. As doctors and nurses knew only a bit more than patients did concerning this illness. Patients were completely isolated, and any medical staff that took the “risk” of entering their room had to take precautions from head to toe not to get infected. Patients who had this disease were prone to the judgments, stigmatization, and even discrimination in the medical care that they were receiving. What is that disease? How come very little is known about it? And why were its patients subject to that level of intolerance even by their care providers?

GRID stood for Gay-related Immune Deficiency, which is known as AIDS in our modern time. GRID was the first name that was given to AIDS as the medical field back then directly related this new and unknown disease to gay men, lesbian women, and bisexuals. Due to heteronormativity’s influence on society and thus on the medical field, patients suffering from AIDS, or as it was called GRID, were looked down at, and consequently weren’t given the full attention that they needed. As time elapsed and we stepped into the 21st century, and thanks to the worldwide LGBTIQ, feminist, and human rights movements, the heteronormative effects were curtailed, and therefore GRID’s impact on the medical field diminished. This resulted in progressive changes starting from changing its name to AIDS, to adding a phrase to the physician’s oath that prevents doctors and nurses from allowing considerations of sexual orientation to intervene between their duty and their patient.

This poses an intriguing question: Is that enough? Having been in the medical field for a while was more than sufficient to show that not much has changed. For instance, in our own capital, the so-called “Jewel of the Middle East,” some AIDS patients are dying in the ERs of our biggest hospitals, because some nurses and doctors are refusing to approach them. In other cases, some doctors are taking advantage of some concerned parents’ lack of information regarding gender issues, and convincing them that placing their lesbian daughter on the ninth floor in the psychiatry department of a well known hospital with an I.V. containing some psychosomatic drugs will “cure” her and make her “straight.” Unfortunately, Lebanon is only an example; such cases repeat themselves at high rates around the world.

Though the answer to the question was rather disturbing, it was still enough to prove that a modified name and an extra amendment to an oath weren’t sufficient to attain the required transformation in the medical field. Such transformation requires not only change in legislation but drastic modifications in the corrupted heteronormativity and habits of societies worldwide, so that progress can start in the medical field and become an example for other structures and institutions in our society.

- Contributed by Taktak

Guest Contributor

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