Gender, Sexuality and Occupational Therapy – What’s the Link?

Rachael Daniels

Rachael uses the pronouns she/her. Rachael is a UK-based occupational therapist, currently working within community rehabilitation. 

Having long felt that the Occupational Therapy profession was lacking in regards to visibility and representation of minoritised groups, earlier this year (alongside a few others), Rachael co-founded the LGBTQIA+OTUK network. The initial aim of the network being to seek to champion the visibility and representation of LGBTQIA+ individuals., adopting an ethos based upon wanting to connect-share-learn-celebrate. 


Gender and sexuality are becoming increasingly debated topics around the world, yet it seems as though the thoughts of occupational scientists and occupational therapists are often missing from those discussions. When you acknowledge that how an individual identifies is likely to inform most, if not all, of the occupations that they engage in, it is difficult to comprehend why we are not involved in those discussions. 

Perhaps one of the reasons we are often absent from such discussion is that the link between gender, sexuality and occupational therapy is yet to be solidified. Speaking from my own personal experience, I am frequently asked whether or not I believe there is a link between gender, sexuality and occupational therapy. I am also then often asked what I believe that link is. If it is not a commonly held belief that there is a link between gender, sexuality and occupational therapy, it becomes easy to see why we are often absent from the aforementioned discussions. 

By most definitions, occupational therapy is considered to be a person-centred profession. To be truly person centred, consideration and understanding of one’s identity and how this may impact on everyday life surely must be given? Under the umbrella term of identity, firmly sit gender and sexuality. So, it goes without saying then, that gender, sexuality and occupational therapists are intrinsically linked. Furthermore, it could be argued that occupational therapists are in a relatively unique position and arguably best equipped to explore identity and sexuality - or does it?


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