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Including Sexual, Gender Minorities Improves Research ‘For Everyone’

Among the research that Carl Streed, MD, conducts at Boston University School of Medicine is analyzing screening tools physicians use to assess cardiovascular health and how they may fail to address sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations—and the ongoing danger this presents.

For example, Streed, assistant professor of medicine and Boston Medical Center’s research lead for the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery, found that the American College of Cardiology’s risk estimator for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease lists only White, African American and other for race, and just male and female for gender.

Speaking at a recent webinar sponsored by WCG IRB,[1] Streed noted that research has found having just three variables for race “is inadequate and really does not accurately estimate cardiovascular risk for a number of marginalized racial populations.”

Streed’s research, funded by the American Heart Association and NIH, has found that “we need to expand binary categories as it relates to cardiovascular health and risk prediction tools,” he said.

NIH, Streed said, defines SGM “broadly” to refer to “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals and, essentially, anybody else who does not identify as straight or cisgender.”[2]

The agency defines cisgender as an “individual whose gender identity aligns with the one associated with the sex assigned to them at birth.”

Streed added that NIH “has really been very deliberate in trying to make sure we have a more expansive term, to really make sure that we’re not excluding anybody unintentionally.” Among the reasons for wider inclusion is ensuring that the “promise of precision medicine” can be met for all individuals, he said.

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