Gender and health: between nomenclatures and continuums

Gender and health: between nomenclatures and continuums

Catherine Cavalin
Résumé :

Addressing transgender health in a Lancet Series and in The Lancet Psychiatry1 constitutes a milestone for health professionals and social scientists. I draw conclusions from some of these papers on how we consider health, disease, and gender, and on the purpose of the nomenclatures we have developed and use.

Given that transgender people have very common experiences of social rejection and violence, these factors are strong predictors of distress and mental illness.1 The proposal to shift descriptive elements of transgender identity from mental health and behavioural disorders (International Classification of Diseases [ICD]-10) to sexual health categories (ICD-11) represents an opportunity to combine public health with clinical objectives and promote health care as a human right.2, 3 In many ways, this achievement results from the process that has also helped to combat violence against women. The long-lasting efforts of social (feminist) movements and the way epidemiology has addressed interpersonal violence as a public health issue4 have progressively converged, making violence a target for public health and human rights policies. The relation between feminism, human rights, and public health, although not fully understood, illustrates a broader endeavour in public health and epidemiology that the new proposals on the health of transgender people also show: reformulation of various social issues that involve health in social terms to provide pragmatic public health implementations.

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