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The Medicalization of Queerness

Queerness means many different things to different people. It is both an identity and a community, a way of being and a way of reimagining. Being queer can mean a deeper exploration of the self, or it can mean finally telling the world what was kept hidden for so long.


The term “queer” has come a long way, from a slur to a beacon; an umbrella term that can stretch to fit many different gender identities, sexualities, bodies, and histories. Despite the complex nature of queerness and queer identity, queer bodies are often generalized through a lens of pathology, particularly in modern biomedical science. This means that, regardless of what it may mean to an individual, queerness is foremost seen as an affliction, either of the mind or body (or both); something to be solved through therapy and medical intervention. The history of this pathologization has deep roots in transphobic and homophobic cultural assumptions, as well as cultural notions of health and societal norms.


In this zine, we trace that history, following a sequence of diagnoses that lead us to where we are today. We examine why scientific processes of the past may have come to these conclusions, and why it is still impactful and harmful to queer folks today.


Queerness can be so many things, but it is not a disease or a problem that needs to be solved. Queerness is part of the natural variation of the human condition and lived experience; something to be celebrated, cherished, and revered.




Citations and further reading:

  • Eckhert, E. (2016). Focus: sex and gender health: a case for the demedicalization of queer bodies. The Yale journal of biology and medicine, 89(2), 239.

  • Spurlin, W. J. (2022). Queer theory and biomedical practice: The biomedicalization of sexuality/the cultural politics of biomedicine. In Queer Interventions in Biomedicine and Public Health (pp. 7-20). Springer, Cham.

  • Smith, T. (2012). Pathology, bias and queer diagnosis: a crip queer consciousness.

  • Wyndzen, M. H. (1998) Psychology & Psychopathology of Transgenderism, All Mixed Up, www.genderpsychology.org

  • Zeeman, L., Aranda, K., & Grant, A. (2014). Queer challenges to evidence‐based practice. Nursing Inquiry, 21(2), 101-111.

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