Queering biomedicine: Culture and (in)visibility in a medical school




Robertson, William J.

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What can the experiences of queer medical students tell us about the existence of homophobia and heteronormativity in medical environments? This thesis focuses on the experiences of queer medical students and physicians as they are enculturated into biomedical theory and practice. I begin by laying out the historical and theoretical trends in the study of sex/gender and sexuality, with a particular focus on how these trends have affected the anthropological study of sex/gender and sexuality. Next, I review the literature on queer health and medical education in order to situate the results of the research within the broader medical education and queer health disparities literatures. After detailing the methods used to gather and analyze the data that makes up this thesis, I explore my informants' experiences with their medical education and training with particular focus on medical case studies as an example of the ways that heteronormativity becomes internalized by informants in medical environments. Next, I examine the interaction between my informants' ideas about (in)visibility in medical environments, and I introduce the concept of the irrelevance narrative as a means of making sense of how informants view the role of their queerness in their practice of medicine. I conclude with a discussion of the limitations of this research and provide a list of best practices for medical education, training, and practice on queer health issues informed by the literature and my discussions with informants.


The author has granted permission for their work to be available to the general public.


Biomedical Education, Health Care, Hidden Curriculum, Irrelevance Narrative, LGBT, Queer