Need a perfect paper? Place your first order and save 5% with this code:   SAVE5NOW

Race, Class, Gender, and Health Care

The adverse implications of social discrimination and segregation based on race, gender, or economic class are evident through an unfair system that hinders fair access to such basic needs as healthcare. According to the lecture, health disparities are deeply rooted in significantly influential historical patterns that perpetuate inequalities relating to racism, classism, and sexism. In an unfair and unjust society, the domineering majority often victimizes the minority by interfering with their human rights to increase their vulnerability. Considering the fundamental position of health in humanity, hindering access to quality health care serves as a reliable oppression method because it triggers pain, suffering, and death. Health-based oppression can be intentional or prevail in societies due to unfair systemic structures, poverty, and ignorant and biased health practitioners.

The intentional spread of infections to certain social groups capitalizes on the access to healthcare to propagate oppression through epidemics and potential genocide. As the lecture explores, colonizers used this approach to trigger health crises in Native American populations as a method of weakening or subjugating them. Historically, the deliberate spread of illnesses exercised power play, reinforcing cultural and political strongholds and strengthening social discrimination. Besides the ailing conditions, the suffering native population could not access health care, and they would gradually weaken and be subject to the colonizers. Consequently, millions of deaths occurred, with the health implications breeding complications that are still prevalent in the current generations.

Although rapid globalization, push for international cohesion, and reinforcement of ethical standards in the global health system significantly hinder the intentional spread of illnesses, structural barriers still reinforce health-based oppression. Many societies globally are polarized, with systemic social segregation that exposes a particular group to a higher risk of contracting infections and inaccessibility and unaffordability of health units. In the United States (US), transgender immigrants face disturbingly complex issues in accessing quality healthcare, considering the barriers to navigating the systems (“Trans Narratives and Experiences” 12:32). With corrupt and biased systems, minorities often suffer adverse health complications, resulting in suffering and death. The example of the inefficient and unreliable Indian Health Services (IHS) in the lecture explains how systemic barriers oppress certain social groups by controlling their access to health services. The lack of political and legal goodwill in the country has created a tribal health unit where the most significant percentage of the American Indian and Alaska Natives (AIAN) cannot access quality healthcare. Similar scenarios prevail in other countries when decision-makers are inefficient and adhere to tribal, ethnic, and gender stereotypes when adopting and enforcing health-based policies. Many countries have unfair health policies that disregard the welfare of low-income earners and other vulnerable categories, imposing oppression because they cannot effectively access health services. Therefore, the prevalence of structural barriers in countries and societies propagates health-based oppression by forcing people to endure preventable pain and suffering.

Specifically, poverty hinders access to quality health care by forcing certain social groups to depend on unreliable health services. Health care is based on an individual’s financial status, implying that access to quality healthcare and financial status are directly proportional. Classism makes a significant difference in who can access health care, where, and at what quality, implying that low-income earners often face oppression in the health system. It also integrates with race and gender to position poverty as a critical driver of oppression. About 29% of the transgender persons in the US live in poverty, implying that they are likely to lack access to quality health services (6:10). Consequently, 48% skip medical care when in need because of the cost, and 50% avoid preventive care because they cannot afford the charges (7:23). Such statistics imply that a considerable percentage of the American population is suffering poverty-induced oppression because they cannot afford quality health care services.

In such white-dominant countries as America, the non-whites cannot access better employment opportunities. Extreme and relative poverty are dominant among racial and gender minorities because of corrupt social systems. Such an aspect forces them to live in unhealthy informal settlements with inefficient social infrastructure, where dwellers cannot access clean drinking water, reliable sanitation, or a health-sustaining environment. This scenario creates an interplay of different elements of social inequality, especially racism and sexism. Many non-white American residents are low-income earners who live in dirty urban sprawls where they cannot access efficient and quality health services. Non-white transgender persons face the adverse element of this condition because of the additional layer of segregation that positions them at the base of the pyramid in the health system. Their unemployment rate is four times that of the general public (6:13). Therefore, poverty is a vital loophole for oppressors to subject minorities to health-based oppression, as evident with women globally.

Gender-based oppression in all life aspects, especially the access to economic opportunities, positions women, primarily those that are transgender, in the form of heath-based oppression. As the lecture highlights, women are at the bottom of the economic pyramid in all societies globally. Although gender equality activism and the adoption of related international and national policies have enhanced women’s empowerment and scaled the gap, women remain disproportionately poor, implying their inability to access quality healthcare services. Transgender women face the highest level of this form of oppression because their gender, economic class, and sexual orientation affect their ability to access quality healthcare. They face high rates of murder, homelessness, and incarceration because of the lack of legal protection in such critical aspects as access to housing and healthcare. Consequently, they have a very low life expectancy of 30 to 35 years (3:38). Therefore, being a woman heightens other discrimination-sustaining factors, resulting in a form of oppression.

Lastly, a health care system that defines wellbeing as physical also accrues to the oppression of individuals suffering invisible disabilities like mental health issues. Individuals want to present themselves to healthcare practitioners who understand and can resolve their needs. However, the global health system is more focused on the visible indicators of lack of wellness, implying that some individuals face a form of oppression because the physicians are ignorant of their situations. Racial minorities and transgender persons are highly susceptible to invisible disabilities because of social discrimination, stigmatization, and inadequate economic opportunities, to mention a few. Besides facing practitioners who are inconsiderate of their mental wellbeing, they also suffer victimization in health facilities because of their sexual orientation. Consequently, many of them choose to avoid healthcare units and suffer from their conditions rather than expose them to judgemental physicians. In the US, 28% of the transgender population avoids medical care because of stigmatization and harassment (7:23). Therefore, the healthcare units play a role in the contemporary oppressive healthcare sector by failing to address patients’ concerns objectively.

In a nutshell, access to health care can be a form of oppression when an individual or a group intentionally spreads illness to another or where poverty, gender and racial stereotypes, and unprofessional health practitioners support an unfair health system. Although colonizers historically spread epidemics to exercise political power, the contemporary polarized societies that discriminate against individuals according to their social class, gender, and race uphold access to health care as oppression. With established systems that hinder racial and ethnic minorities, especially women and transgender persons, from upscaling the economic ladder, many people are under oppression because they cannot afford quality health care. Besides, the healthcare providers have displayed incompetence in handling invisible disabilities and biases in responding to the needs of transgender and racial minorities, oppressing them because they cannot access quality and timely healthcare services. Therefore, societies will continue upholding access to healthcare as an oppression unless stakeholders conduct transformative initiatives.

Work Cited

“Trans Narratives and Experiences.” Trans Equity. YouTube, 22 July 2021,


Don't have time to write this essay on your own?
Use our essay writing service and save your time. We guarantee high quality, on-time delivery and 100% confidentiality. All our papers are written from scratch according to your instructions and are plagiarism free.
Place an order

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Need a plagiarism free essay written by an educator?
Order it today

Popular Essay Topics