Have You Experienced Sexism in the Medical System? Share Your Story!

Regular readers might have noticed that I haven’t been writing here at Feministing quite as frequently as usual over the last several months. That’s because I’ve been working on a book (my first!) about sex and gender bias in the American medical system. (Coming to a bookstore near you in spring 2017!) It’ll explore how women’s health — and the quality of the health care they receive — is suffering thanks to a lingering knowledge gap and doctors’ unconscious sexism, a problem I’ve become more interested in recently in part because of my own diagnosis with an autoimmune disorder.

While rooted in lots of hard research, the book will be driven by women’s personal stories. And I’m still collecting them, so I thought I’d reach out to the wonderful Feministing community to see if you have any to share with me. Have you — or someone you know — experienced sexism as a patient in the medical realm? For example: Have you been diagnosed with a condition that doctors don’t seem to know much about and — curiously — just happens to affect mostly women? Did you go to a bazillion specialists who tried to convince you that your symptoms were “all in your head” or “just stress” before they finally discovered what was wrong? Did you wait for way too long in the ER because doctors didn’t seem to believe your pain was as serious as you told them it was? Have you had health care providers be condescending, disrespectful, or dismissive to you in a way that you doubt they would be to a male patient? I’m interested in hearing about any and all experiences — big or small, blatant or subtle — where you were dissatisfied with your medical care and suspected that your sex or gender was a factor.

The book will offer an intersectional feminist analysis of the problem, so I’m hoping to highlight a diverse range of experiences that illustrate how gender and sex bias intersects with the many other biases of the medical system — racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, fat phobia, etc.

If you’ve got a story you’re willing to share, fill out this form to give me a general idea of your experience, and I may follow up to hear more. Thanks so much for your help!

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St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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