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Practicing care: queer vulnerability in the hospital

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This discussion paper addresses practicalities of queer resistance to norms about life and identity, in mainstream medical contexts. Queer agency may be compromised at times of illness and/or health-related vulnerability. Although this compromise is part of mundane politics for hardy queers who routinely negotiate mainstream institutions such as hospitals, there are side-effects that may negatively impact non-normative subjectivity. This paper highlights the necessarily contingent nature of being cared for in the clinic, the surgeon’s hands, or the psychiatric ward and reveals what may be overlooked, misunderstood or explicitly rejected in mainstream medical contexts. The salient points from my own hospital experiences are explored to highlight counter-discourses and contentious issues around caring for non-normative (queer) subjectivities.
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Keywords: Genderqueer-ness; agency; cancer; care; mad studies; suicidality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Arts and School of Business and Governance, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia

Publication date: May 4, 2018

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