This weeks #Otalk is on the topic of “gender identities in occupational engagement.” and will be hosted by Rebecca Swanson (@75Rebecca) and supported by Eden Dowers.
Eden Dowers: Eden is a non-binary occupational therapy (masters) student living and studying in Melbourne, Australia. Their interest is in developing transgender-positive practice, highlighting the need to create more complex concepts of identity and multiple ways of becoming.
Rebecca Swenson: Rebecca is a lecturer in occupational therapy at London South Bank University. She is currently undertaking UKOTRF funded research into the lived experience of those who define as trans, non-binary or genderqueer, exploring the relationship between occupational engagement and identity expression.
Here’s what they had to say…
There has been a recent and profound shift in the understanding, and recognition, of transgender and non-binary identities. This is reflected in potential changes to legislation, namely the Gender Recognition Act which would make it easier for those who define as trans or non-binary to self-declare their gender rather than undergo the arduous legal and medical processes currently in place.
Whilst attitudes and legislation may be changing, those who are trans and non-binary can face hostility and discrimination and there remains misinformation about these communities particularly with regards to health needs. In 2016, the parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee published the results of their Transgender Equality Inquiry which examined the ways in which transgender people have yet to achieve full equality and involved the scrutiny of practice across health and social care professions. The report states that the NHS is failing to protect the rights of trans people, due in part to lack of knowledge and understanding from clinicians of the health needs of these communities.
With these proposed changes to legislation and an increasing number of people defining as trans and non-binary, as reflected in the significant increase of referrals to Gender Identity Clinics, it is timely to discuss gender identities in relation to practice. This will be an opportunity for the OTtalk community to discuss best practice and the positive role that occupational therapy can play in enabling those who are trans or non-binary express their gender and live a life authentic to them.