Identity, diversity and difference: young people’s experience of fertility difficulties

Understanding ethnicity and diversity

South Asian parents’ and young people’s discussions about fertility following bone marrow transplantation in thalassaemia further illustrate the importance of conceptualizing ethnicity within this broader context. Several years after the event, parents and young people often complain that they were not informed about the possible effects on fertility following bone marrow transplantation. Research, however, suggests that they were informed but at the time chose to focus on the prospect of ‘cure’ rather than the long-term consequences of the treatment tretinoin cream Canada. This is perhaps understandable, particularly since bone marrow transplantation occurs at a young age when fertility may not always be uppermost in a parent’s mind. Such a response, however, occurs irrespective of ethnicity and seems to be a feature of bone marrow transplantation.

Ethnicity, therefore, does not always equate with difference. Similarly, not every problem or difficulty a person encounters as they attempt to gain access to appropriate service delivery can be attributed to his or her ethnic background. Socio-economic status, age and gender may be as important as ethnicity in making sense of a person’s health and social care needs. By improving services generally we can often improve support for minority ethnic populations.

Disability, chronic illness and identity

Up to now we have discussed identity within the broader context of ethnicity, diversity and difference. There has been, however, an important theme missing from our discussion. Many of the issues raised by more specific discussions about ethnicity, chronic illness and disability have relevance to emerging discourses on fertility and ethnicity. Debates about identity are complex but are perhaps more so for disabled or chronically ill people from minority ethnic groups. Young people may wish to identify with the religious and cultural values of their family as well as with those of the more Western-orientated wider society in which they live. The experience of disability in which they are struggling to reconcile the inability of the wider society to accommodate difference, while maintaining a positive identity, further complicates the situation.

The past 20 years have seen a shift in how disability is perceived in Western societies. The medical model, with its emphasis on rehabilitation and sense of personal tragedy, has been challenged by a more social model in which disability is seen in relation to the attitudes and barriers imposed by an unjust society .

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