The Irrelevance Narrative: Queer (In)Visibility in Medical Education and Practice

Abstract

How might heteronormativity be reproduced and become internalized through biomedical practices? Based on in-depth, person-centered interviews, this paper explores the ways heteronormativity works into medical education through the hidden curriculum. As experienced by my informants, case studies often reinforce unconscious heteronormative orientations and heterosexist/homophobic stereotypes about queer patients among straight and queer medical students alike. I introduce the concept of the irrelevance narrative to make sense of how queer medical students take up a heteronormative medical gaze. Despite recognizing that being queer affects how they interact with patients, my informants describe being queer as irrelevant to their delivery of care. I conclude with a discussion of how these preliminary findings can inform research on knowledge production in biomedical education and practice with an eye toward the tensions between personal and professional identity among biomedical practitioners.

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