This week I attended a presentation called (Re)imagining Gender and Sexuality in the Healthcare Field Through Ancestral Inquiry. it was held in the Auditorium from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. and presented by Emil Briones, a 30 year old Faculty Lecturer in the Doctor of Dental Medicine Program at McGill University where he holds classes about social justice, health and social inequality. In the beginning of the presentation, he talks about how many of his students, especially those who are older and come from a generation with very traditional backgrounds, have difficulty grasping the fact that there are other ways of expressing ones gender since they mainly turn to scientific knowledge and biological facts to determine whether an individual is male or female. In response the close mindedness of his students, he encourages them to question the idea that there is only one way to understand where we stand when it comes to sexuality and gender. His main goal when teaching is to change peoples point of views on the subject of sexuality and “plant the seed” in order for those who have very restricted beliefs to at least think about topics such as racism and gender in a more open manner. Throughout the presentation he stresses the importance of understanding out personal cultural background saying things like “Know who you are. Know your ancestral roots.” as a way of encouraging the audience to gain more knowledge about their culture. He even includes personal storytelling and life experiences that led him the discovery of the Babaylan which are a class of spiritual healers in the Philippines.
After talking to other students, I can safely say that they responded well to the lecture because of how dynamic it was despite the fact that it was an early morning presentation. Not only that but they agreed with many of the issues brought up. For instance, many of the nursing students agreed that in order to understand the needs of patients, you need to know their cultural background. They really related to that statement since in the medical field, they are the workers who build the best patient contact due to the fact that they have the most opportunity to get to know the patients they care for as opposed to doctors and physicians who aren’t exposed to people to people contact as much.
This presentation made me understand the relation of gender and culture to medicine and how it’s necessary for medical practitioners to be knowledgeable of their patients background in order to make better and more accurate diagnosis’. Beforehand, I wasn’t aware that other cultural backgrounds needed to be taken into account when finding better solutions to the patient’s problems. It also, encouraged me to gain more knowledge on my cultural background. I do not know much about my ancestry but this presentation peaked my curiosity in finding our more about it because I do agree with Emil’s statement that it could contribute to the understanding of myself in more depth.
What I know about Emil is that he is a lecturer at Mc Gill University and that he also works as a conflict mediator. He is half filipin and that his grandfather was supposedly a substance farmer and a witch doctor that would cast out evil spirits from peoples bodies. His teaching methods consist of group discussions in order to help others learn from one another. His classes have a pass fail grading system because it encourages less competitiveness between medical students who are generally extremely competitive. Other than that, I also know that he feels privileged to be able to use his platform as a means to reach younger generations and help them open their minds to gender and sexuality.
Finally, I can say that I recommend this event to my friends because it was dynamic and interesting. It touched on subjects I wasn’t aware of like 2 spirited people and people who identify as gender non-binary. The lecturer is also very open to questions and would even answer ones that are very personal to him which is not something many people are willing to do.