Discourse / Discours - Nurses' Work With LGBTQ Patients: "They're Just Like Everybody Else, So What's the Difference"

Brenda L. Beagan, Erin Fredericks, Lisa Goldberg

Abstract


Informed by critical feminist and queer studies approaches, this article explores nurses' perceptions of practice with patients who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ). Qualitative in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 12 nurses in Halifax, Nova Scotia, illuminate a range of approaches to practice. Most commonly, participants argued that differences such as sexual orientation and gender identity do not matter: Everyone should be treated as a unique individual. Participants seemed anxious to avoid discriminating or stereotyping by avoiding making any assumptions. They were concerned not to offend patients through their language or actions. When social difference was taken into account, the focus was often restricted to sexual health, though some participants showed complex understandings of oppression and marginalization. Distinguishing between generalizations and stereotypes may assist nurses in their efforts to recognize social differences without harming LGBTQ patients.

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