Compelling Care: A Grounded Theory of Transmasculine Self-Defense and Collective Protection at the Clinic.

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Social Science & Medicine (1982)

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Despite formidable inequities in health care systems, transgender people are accessing clinical services in record numbers and gaining recognition as a patient population. This article examines how transgender people are negotiating their care and, in so doing, challenging patterns of marginalization and exclusion. Interviews with twenty-six transmasculine adults were collected and analyzed in the context of a community-led initiative foregrounding low-income people and people of color in Los Angeles County using a constructivist grounded theory approach. Participants gained agency in clinical settings by compelling care, a grounded theory that explains how patients contest medical authority and shift power through everyday acts to defend themselves and future patients. Histories of mistreatment and unequal social power drive patients to engage with health care providers judiciously and with a sense of social responsibility. In tracing seemingly decentralized acts of self-defense (e.g., vetting providers, disrupting gender norms, directing treatment), the study shows how patients rely on community resources and marshal collective protection. The theory recasts patients as constitutive actors in a changing landscape of care and as integral to, and one of many fronts of, collective struggle. In turn, the study lends theoretical insights to anti-racist understandings of medical mistrust andoffers a depathologized framework toward the development of community-building health equity interventions.


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