Healthcare (and curriculum) for all

Textbook cover for York course, Kinesiology (KINE) 3012 Human Physiology II. (Courtesy of Brooke Jensen)

Transgender (or trans) representation is an ongoing issue that is often ignored in many aspects of education. For example, although the Stonewall Riots were confirmed to have been started by trans women of colour, specifically Marsha P. Johnson, it is not something that is taught outside the queer community. 

When it comes to healthcare, trans bodies are not included either. According to a 2020 report by Trans Pulse Canada, the healthcare system is not doing well enough to provide care for the community. Even though Canada has a universal healthcare system where 81 per cent of the 2,873 respondents is said to be covered by healthcare, 45 per cent reported that their needs were not met, and 12 per cent avoided going to the hospital altogether.

But where do we begin? How do we ensure this issue is covered and improved for the trans community starting in our own university? 

At York, there are many health programs that offer extensive courses on the body and ways to treat them. By incorporating trans bodies in the curriculums of programs such as kinesiology, nursing, psychology, etc., we would create an environment of inclusion here at York, and ensure the future of healthcare is more inclusive.

According to kinesiology graduate Gauthum Rajendra, trans bodies were included in the curriculum, but the lens was focused more on sports than healthcare. Although it is a start, it does not focus on the comprehensive well-being of an individual, rather, it focuses on one aspect of their lives.

“Transgender individuals and people whose sex are not a part of the binary require healthcare, it’s as simple as that.”

When asked what they would like to improve or change about the program, Rajendra adds: “I would have liked to see more discussions and encouragement about discussing the trans body in health care and not just in relation to sport.”

Improving the education of healthcare for trans bodies at the post-secondary level is beneficial not only to the trans community, but to all persons in Canada since it will consider the importance of individuality of the human body. 

Another York kinesiology graduate, Brooke Jensen, explains it plainly: “transgender individuals and people whose sex are not a part of the binary require healthcare, it’s as simple as that.

“As future healthcare providers, we need to learn about how power, privilege, and oppression manifest itself in healthcare to provide safe and inclusive healthcare to these individuals.”

Although there are a lot of similarities in the human body, no two people are the same — each will have different needs. If a healthcare worker such as a nurse, kinesiologist, or psychologist is able to look at the individual and provide care without basing it on generalizations about gender, but instead by fully assessing the individual seeking care, it would create a safer space for trans folks. 

Doing so might help create a space in healthcare where trans folks can feel safe and listened to rather than ignored and rejected. Ensuring that public spaces are inclusive to all is an important step in helping to improve mental health for the trans community. 

This inclusion of the trans community starts with education. Rajendra says it well: “Expanding on the importance of inclusivity is important, and although I think my program did a good job of incorporating trans individuals, there is always means of improvement.” 

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By Gloria Mampuya

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