On Science, Medicine, Ethics, and Transgender Identities
I’m thrilled to see my new article “Science Will Not Save Us: Medicine, Research Ethics, and My Transgender Body” – published with Autostraddle last week. It’s a piece I’d been mulling for awhile in response to a lot of uncritical appeals to medical research to validate the identities of trans people that I’ve encountered (from news outlets to Twitter conversations), especially since coming out.
From the article:
“I’m especially critical of any overreliance on scientific evidence to validate the existence of trans identities — not because science is bogus, but because science (like any professionalized endeavor) is defined, in part, by what it excludes. It relies on certain practices, discourses, and “ways of knowing” in order to distinguish itself from, say, religion or the humanities. Or, you know, alchemy. But these “ways of knowing” do not appear out of nowhere — they are the result of centuries of social, political, and historical development. Simply declaring “science is on our side” flattens an otherwise diverse terrain of politics and history that inform different branches of science and its sub-fields. Any responsible approach to folding science into advocacy efforts should not only understand what scientific research says, but how and why it came to say what it does. For those interested in trumpeting a biological basis for gender dysphoria, this means understanding the history and limits of medical research in particular.”
If you get a chance, jump on over to the site and check out the entire article (where I end up talking about everything from Fox News to ontological politics to Neil deGrasse Tyson to feminist science studies to slave ships to the Belmont Report to the Havasupai tribe to Laverne Cox). Oh, and major thanks to Autostraddle and the folks that offered help on this piece there – they’ve long been one of my favorite sites and I am grateful to have had the chance to work with them!
21 Jul 2014 / Anna Lauren