To mark the end of Women’s month and celebrate the Transgender Day of Visibility, the incredible and brave Cleo Xulaye wrote a special piece on women’s health and how language affects and influences inclusiveness and accountability.

In gendering health while speaking about women’s health, let’s be conscious of how to rightly use a binary

Specificity and clarity ensure accountability, but let us not forget how much more could potentially be lost to exclusion:

  1. If there is no deliberateness in using inclusive language that recognizes all communities in their diversity, particularly those at the margins aggrieved by the same gendered biases that perpetuate gendered disparities in access to health.
  2. And if flexible language is not adopted that allows itself to evolve and meet as closely as possible, the reality on the ground.

Such is how I feel about gendered conversations particularly about health.  Unfortunately, we continue to live in a world were gendering any conversations as “women” only deprioritizes and deprioritisation that conversation to an AOB. This is true for cis women, but even direr for trans, non-binary and intersex folk, who were not a thought to begin with in speaking gendered health, who continue to be excluded because global health systems continue to be binary, and who if ever they are included their health is considered cosmetic and not essential to life in several countries and in others their mere existence criminalized and their attempt to seek for health punished.

A health system is only as good as the many different kinds of patients it is able to rightly track, rightly diagnose and support back to wellness.

It is sad that several health systems globally continue to use a binary gendered system. This is a deliberate exclusion of trans, non-binary and intersex folk who do not see themselves within this binary gendered system.

Cleo Xulaye has owned her journey and continues to be an inspiration to many

As a pre-op trans person in Uganda prior to my Sexual Reaffirmation Surgery, I struggled with the fact that my prostate heath and breast health where coded under different departments but how could I then as a woman, ask my doctor about my prostate health, when it is not part of the OBGYN list of services they provide, and if they did, they assumed it would be on a different body, a man’s body.

Myself and other trans women who have already had Sexual re-affirmation surgeries struggle with getting any accurate, life-saving diagnoses and treatment for trans specific health needs after their surgeries. Our chimeric physiologies and anatomies continue to be a mystery that the medical fraternity continue to push to the sidelines and yet there are almost 50 Million Trans, non-binary and intersex people on this planet. To put this in perspective this is the population of Uganda of the most populous countries in the world (ranking 31 out of 235).

In specificity and clarity is completeness or the lack of it is key.

In speaking about clarity and specificity, completeness or the lack of it is key as a barometer of how well a system is doing. But the methodical failure to non-binary, gendered conversations about health is an intentional strategic genocidal attack on trans, non-binary and intersex persons globally as it constitutes a systemic deliberate denial of the right to health and to life to folks outside the binary.

This women’s health month, let us be complete in speaking about gender in health. While gender was not made for us a gender minority, we would like to think that we could co-opt it to reframe, expand and nuance conversations around gender minorities in health. Let us work to adopt health systems that are able to recognize, and rightly diagnose and serve as many diverse communities as possible.