Health

Gender Vs Sex- Role Of Sexual Orientation in Health Research

gender vs sex
Image by Sharon McCutcheon from Pixabay

Sexual orientation has many names but it is easy to confuse gender with sex. This gender vs sex debate is endless but it is vital to medical research, requiring accurate data on each of them to plan a healthcare system, diagnostics, treatment, and prevention plans.

Often used interchangeably, both sex and gender should be understood first before looking for each one’s impact on medical research and health systems. The word sex is used to explain a binary individual, who is either male or female, determined by the characteristics revealed at birth i.e. biological sex. On the other side, gender means a socially constructed role that does not have to be similar to the biological sex and shows expression, role, behavior, and identities.

So in medical research, when the question of the efficacy of a certain medicine for middle-aged women arises, it is a sex-based question and does not have to do anything for their gender. In addition to this, any research explaining why women prefer joining healthcare or education departments as a profession is a gender-related question with no link with their sex.

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Even in the countries where gender and sex-based roles are acknowledged and respected, the medical system lacks some approaches to truly apply them, making it hard to reform the health research. Research with false or improper information on the gender or sex of a particular class can lead to a wrong diagnosis, treatment, or protection plan for the whole population.

Gender vs sex analysis is based on the understanding of each of them, which is especially true in the case of medical research. For example, based on this information, federal policies, health insurance, and healthcare plans can be introduced, changed, or improved for each target group. But it necessarily requires to be clear about these terms and their functions first.

According to the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, only a small number of federal units and departments follow the measures planned according to gender and most of them do not actually conduct them. It also reports that sex and gender-based studies are still not adopted by the federal despite the fact that Canada is one of the top countries to acknowledge and facilitate non-binary groups and diverse genders.

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This delay and lack can affect the whole gender vs sex analytical approach used to group different people into identifiable categories. Any changes to these groups can affect the whole category as a whole especially after any federal initiative in medical research and public health.

The health sector has witnessed issues in implementing sex and gender-based studies for a long time. An example of this is how cancer screening tests, registries in women almost ignore the lesbians, trans, and bisexual groups and rarely there is a study based on gender-diverse groups. When these studies are available, these groups would get some visibility and better surveillance, diagnostics, and treatment plans just like binary groups. When this whole data is based on binary roles, informing non-binary groups and diverse-gender groups regarding the care, prevention plan, treatment facilities, and support is impossible.

Further, it may be hard to change or improve the poorly-constructed policies that do not address the addressed group due to the misidentification. The whole point to determine gender and sex-based roles is to ensure that no person has to suffer inequality or be left out during health policy establishment and developing procedures. The research centering sex and gender-based evaluations would help the government to make better decisions including the health sector considerations to make the whole population part of it.

About the author

Areeba Hussain

Graduated in Medical Microbiology, Areeba is working as a full-time medical writer for the last few years. She enjoys summarizing the latest researches into readable news to convey the recent advancements in medicine and human health.

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