Recently, Women In Optometry issued a Pop-Up Poll to determine whether the social dynamics around gender-neutral conversations has increased. In the November 2022 poll, 29 percent of respondents said that they allow patients to choose an option on the patient health form that is something other than male or female.
More than eight percent said that they include a space for people to list their preferred pronouns, and 25 percent said that while they haven’t made that option available yet, they are likely to do so. One-third of the respondents said they do not offer that option and are unlikely to change their forms.
In a similar WO Pop-Up Poll from 2017, 55 percent said they did not provide a gender-neutral option on their patient health forms. Another 45 percent of respondents at the time said they did, are planning to or ask no gender-based questions on their patient forms. That number is much higher than the 33 percent that answered this way in 2022.
In the 2022 WO Poll, a majority of respondents said that they are familiar with alternatives to traditional gender pronouns. Fifteen percent said that they proactively ask patients what pronouns they prefer, while 52 percent say they wait for the patient to bring it up.
Nearly 30 percent said that they have heard about alternative, non-gender-specific pronouns but have not used them, and nearly four percent say they do not know much about pronoun alternatives. These numbers show an interesting shift towards inclusion compared to when WO asked this question in 2017. Most significant, at that time, 28 percent said they had not heard alternatives to gender pronouns. It is now four percent.
These numbers are significantly different from when WO asked the question in 2017. These numbers reflect some interesting shifts since 2017. In that poll also, 15 percent said that they are comfortable asking patients what pronouns they prefer, and 21 percent wait for the patient to bring it up.
STEPS TO TAKE
In the 2022 poll, respondents were asked whether they have incorporated any of these ideas for gender-inclusivity. Here are the results; respondents could choose more than one.
- 81 percent said they have gender-neutral bathrooms
- 56 percent said they hold staff discussions on gender inclusivity
- 50 percent said they have gender-neutral frame displays
One respondent noted that the practice made a donation to a local LGTBQIA+ organization for pride month.
One female OD respondent said, “We had a really fun discussion with a patient and their mom about why ‘they’ was actually grammatically neutral and not only plural. The teenager was a great explainer!”
“I have been meaning to schedule a meeting with staff regarding this. It has been weighing on my mind recently. Thanks for the reminder to get in gear on that,” said a female OD respondent.
“We have a space on our forms for preferred names, but not preferred genders. The technician may inform me that the patient has a preferred pronoun, but this is actually rare. I call them by their preferred name,” said a female OD respondent.
Seventy percent of the respondents said they were female ODs and 19 percent said they were male ODs. The remaining 11 percent are not ODs, either female or preferred not to specify.
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