transgender transgender continuing education online transgender health transgender health education Jul 11, 2022
Dr. Liz Eaman (she/her) and Dr. Crystal Beal (they/them) at Doodle Family Medicine booth at Seattle PRIDE 2022.

“Can I even say the word queer?”


That depends. 


Historically, “queer” has been used in a derogatory fashion. Community reclaimed the term, and it is now often used as an umbrella term to encompass all LGBTQAAI2S+ identities. Sometimes queer is defined by what it is not, but I prefer to focus on what it is. The term queer, like all words, but especially those associated with identities, is defined differently across individuals and cultures. For me, queer simultaneously feels like my favorite cozy sweatshirt and the most expansive freedom.


I never felt like I fit any of the available labels: the L, the G, the B, or the T. 


When I first ventured into LGBT culture, my straight, cis, and my LGBT friends asked me what I was. I always answered, “Crystal, I am Crystal and if that doesn’t work for you, fuck right off.” (My time coming out coincided with leaving an abusive relationship, so I was very much in a place of zero tolerance for unkind and unaffirming relationships.) Maybe four to five years after my first forays into LGBT community I heard the term queer with positive connotations, and I just knew at that moment:


I am queer. 


So many people think of queer as about who you have sex with, but it is so much more than that. Brandon Wint said it well, "Not queer like gay. Queer like escaping definition. Queer like some sort of fluidity and limitlessness at once. Queer like a freedom too strong to be conquered. Queer like the fearlessness to imagine what love can look like... and pursue it." That quote has always resonated with me because my queerness seems to touch every facet of my life, not just who I fuck. Queerness seems to permeate my existence and has caused dissonance for me in so many spaces. That dissonance has made me question my ability to complete medical training and my capacity to practice in traditional health systems. 

Then I found the bell hooks quote, "queer not as being about who you're having sex with (that can be a dimension of it); but queer as being about the self that is at odds with everything around it and has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live." That was a MOMENT. I suddenly realized that I wasn’t the problem. Traditional healthcare systems are centered on colonial and patriarchal principles of racism, oppression, misogyny and cis hetero-centrism, and that was what didn’t fit. That dissonance was my queerness unwilling to be shoved into the closet of professionalism. That dissonance was also my saving grace as it pushed me to create a space for myself within healthcare at QueerDoc. 


I identify as queer. You can call me queer when referring to my identity or positive traits about me derived from my queerness. You can also use the term queer in that umbrella manner. You should avoid using queer in a hateful or derogatory way. Learn more about how others define queer for themselves in this article from them. Queer undefined is a crowdsourced dictionary of terms in the LGBTQ+ rainbow. In this dictionary, you can get definitions of a specific word from multiple individuals; thus, it is an excellent resource for healthcare providers. 



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