"I would have preferred more options": accounting for non-binary youth in health research

Nurs Inq. 2017 Jan;24(1). doi: 10.1111/nin.12150. Epub 2016 Sep 21.


As a research team focused on vulnerable youth, we increasingly need to find ways to acknowledge non-binary genders in health research. Youth have become more vocal about expanding notions of gender beyond traditional categories of boy/man and girl/woman. Integrating non-binary identities into established research processes is a complex undertaking in a culture that often assumes gender is a binary variable. In this article, we present the challenges at every stage of the research process and questions we have asked ourselves to consider non-binary genders in our work. As researchers, how do we interrogate the assumptions that have made non-binary lives invisible? What challenges arise when attempting to transform research practices to incorporate non-binary genders? Why is it crucial that researchers consider these questions at each step of the research process? We draw on our own research experiences to highlight points of tensions and possibilities for change. Improving access to inclusive health-care for non-binary people, and non-binary youth in particular, is part of creating a more equitable healthcare system. We argue that increased and improved access to inclusive health-care can be supported by research that acknowledges and includes people of all genders.

Keywords: gender; gender identity; gender- and sex-based analysis; health research; non-binary gender; population health; research methodology; transgender; youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Health Services Research / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nursing Methodology Research / organization & administration*
  • Research Design
  • Transgender Persons*
  • Vulnerable Populations