Tag: sexuality

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Using Inclusive Language Isn’t Enough

Celeste Orr and Erin Leigh Courtice respond to criticisms of the British Medical Associations’ guide on inclusive language which aims to ensure that trans, intersex, genderqueer, and non-binary people are not subjected to discriminatory language.

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Since January 2017, Hayden Cross has garnered a lot of media attention. He is the first publicly-known pregnant trans man in Britain. In response to the media attention, there has been considerable criticism of the 2016 British Medical Association’s “A guide to effective communication.” The guide recognizes that some trans men and intersex men may become pregnant and it calls for the use of more inclusive language. The guide recommends that medical professionals use the phrase “pregnant people” instead of “expectant mothers.”

While the guide was published in 2016, before Cross’ pregnancy, a connection between Cross and the guide persists. Many of the articles and people criticizing the guide assume or suggest that it was published since Cross’ pregnancy. In this way, Cross is being blamed for the apparently “Orwellian” instructions, which undoubtedly intensifies the cissexist violence being aimed at him.

According to Philip Davies, British Conservative MP, the guide is “completely ridiculous.” Laura Perrins, of The Conservative Woman, describes the recommendations as “anti-science, anti-women and anti-mother.” Similarly, Sarah Vine claims the guide is “an insult to mothers.”

These recent criticisms are deeply problematic. For example, Perrins’ claim that the guide is anti-science is not only ironic, but false. Her claim reproduces the scientifically unsubstantiated essentialist theory that bodies are innately sexed and gendered, as observable by various bodily characteristics and capabilities.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Lenore Manderson, Elizabeth Cartwright and Anita Hardon’s The Routledge Handbook of Medical Anthropology by Casey Golomski

The Routledge Handbook of Medical Anthropology

Edited by Lenore Manderson, Elizabeth Cartwright and Anita Hardon

Routledge, 2016, 393 pages.

 

This is not a run-of-the-mill medical anthropology reader. Thank Routledge, its editors, and contributors for it. As someone who regularly convenes intermediate-advanced courses in medical anthropology, I’m grateful for its readability, teachable qualities, and particular theoretical angles. I’m going to trace four areas where I think the new Routledge Handbook of Medical Anthropology is innovative among the current offerings of similar edited volumes on the market for our discipline.

 

Visual innovation :: contextualized photographic figures

Recently, there’s been hot and necessary discussion about the images used for anthropology book covers: Tunstall and Esperanza (2016) over at Savage Minds provide interesting practical guidelines for book cover image selection as a way to decolonize anthropology. Ethnographies of medicine, suffering, and war with nuanced photographic figures of belabored people arguably make these books more compelling and help them win awards (De Leòn with Wells 2015, Biehl with Eskerod 2007, 2013), and also raise ethical questions about the images we choose to give life to our writing. The Routledge Handbook contains 16 photographic figures, taken by both contributors and others selected from a global Internet-based call-for-submissions in 2015, each placed as a ‘prelude’ (xii) to its respective chapter. A thoughtful, roughly 150-175 word description by the photographer accompanies each figure, giving it fuller context beyond the usual one sentence caption.

I appreciate projects that aim to decolonize higher education, the academy and our respective discipline, and find Tunstall and Esperanza’s approach insightful.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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No case to answer in UK’s odd female genital mutilation imbroglio

An unusual criminal investigation in London of high-profile doctors for female genital mutilation (FGM) has collapsed. FGM is usually carried out in secret amongst communities from the Middle East and Africa. However, this procedure was described in a medical journal and involved leading British physicians.

In 2011 a surgeon, Professor Joe Daniels, and a psychiatrist, Professor David Veale, published an article in The Archives of Sexual Behaviour about a clitoris removal operation on a 33-year-old Western patient. She had already had labia reduction surgery but still thought her genitals were “ugly” and “hated the look of them”. So Veale gave his approval as a psychiatrist and Daniels did the operation.

Upon reading the article, another academic, Professor Susan Bewley, was outraged and urged the Crown Prosecution Service to investigate because it appeared to breach the UK’s law banning FGM. However, surgery of this kind is permitted for medical or psychological reasons and eventually the police declared that there was no case to answer.

Professor Veale told the Evening Standard that he was utterly opposed to FGM.

“FGM and cosmetic surgery are completely different. To me it’s completely clear. FGM is an abhorrent practice conducted on girls against their consent motivated by a desire to control female sexuality, but [cosmetic genital surgery] is provided for adult women with capacity to consent and motivated by a desire to improve their appearance and sexuality. It’s no different to any other cosmetic surgery…

“I don’t like the procedure. But the bottom line for me is freedom of choice. You have a freedom of choice if you have capacity for consent to do what you wish with your own body.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Biofinance: Speculation, Risk, Debt, and Value from Bios: A conference report by Danya Glabau

How does the financialization of life itself figure as a new means of producing value in modern technoscience? That is the question that motivated Kirk Fiereck to convene the panel “Biofinance: Speculation, Risk, Debt, and Value from Bios” at the 2016 American Anthropological Association meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota this November. Fiereck, panelists Melina Sherman, Danya Glabau, and Emily Xi Lin, discussant Kristin Peterson, and chair David Pederson, offered new ways to think about how financialized life is a source of value, and what this means for the ethics and practice of biomedicine in sites throughout the globe.

In writing this conference report, Fiereck, Sherman, and Glabau each contributed short comments about their talks, which were edited together in the unified first half of this report. The second half includes further reflections that we have attributed to each scholar individually as a way to illustrate the diverse, possibly divergent, uses of “biofinance” as a concept.

 

The Papers

Melina Sherman opened the panel with, “Biofinancial Investments and Disinvestments: Examining the U.S. Opioid Epidemic,” which focused on the cultural and institutional construction of pharmaceutical markets – in particular, the market for prescription painkillers. Markets, especially those situated within the bioeconomy – an economic space in which capital is organized through life (bios) in its various forms – constitute the broader context in which biofinancial practices are situated. Her paper explored the ways in which the selective investments and divestments of federal regulators and opioid consumers condition the growth of this market. The market for prescription opioids is a good example of what Sherman calls an “addiction market” (see also Lovell, 2006), where addiction (understood as a destructive attachment – in this case, of a person to a prescription drug) is built-in to the cultural and economic processes that drive market formation and growth.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Time to End Discrimination in Providing Medical Care

by Jenji C. Learn, BA

How much are your genitals worth to you? Your beard? Your breasts?

What’s a reasonable price for them? It’s not like you really need them, right?  They aren’t essential organs. They’re purely cosmetic- superficial!

If an accident or a malicious act cost you one of those things, you certainly wouldn’t expect your health insurance to cover it, or expect anyone to feel any sympathy for you. Why should they? That’s your responsibility, and you should pay out of pocket, because after all, you can live just as well without any of that stuff, surely.

If you found what I just said to be shocking, grotesque, callous, offensive, or positively inhuman… then so too must you apply those same words to describe the status of healthcare for trans and intersex people in America.

To this day, not only do most insurance providers and plans not offer coverage for the medications, procedures, and treatments necessary for people trying to transition their primary and secondary anatomical sexual characteristics to those that correspond with the neurophysiology of their brains (or in many cases, even their genomes), but in fact many insurers explicitly hold blanket exclusions or bans on such coverage, in some cases even mandated by law. It was only this year that any steps were taken to begin to end these flagrantly discriminatory exclusions. Instead, a Federal District Court Judge appointed by George Bush Jr, issued a ‘preliminary injunction’ to halt those anti-discrimination protections from being enforced nation-wide, just hours before they were supposed to go into effect on January 1.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Sex and gender. New findings, new controversy

pdf‘Patients who had undergone sex reassignment surgery at his hospital, stated that the problems presented by patients before the surgery had not been resolved, at either human relationship, work or emotional level.

Introduction

Sex and gender. Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer, an epidemiologist specialising in Psychiatry, and Dr. Paul R. McHugh, said to be the most important American psychiatrist of the last half century, have recently published a study entitled “Sexuality and Gender” in the journal The New Atlantis (see HERE), which offers an exhaustive review of more than five hundred scientific articles related with this matter. “I was alarmed to learn that the LGBT community bears a disproportionate rate of mental health problems compared to the population as a whole”, says Dr. Mayer, one of the authors of the article. 1

Background

In November 2014, Dr. McHugh had already published a report on the website First Things2, in which he explained his decision as head of the Psychiatry Department at John Hopkins hospital in Baltimore, US, to no longer propose any sex reassignment surgery, in view of the negative findings that he obtained after a retrospective examination of patients who had undergone the procedure.

In the current article, the authors looked at studies published in recent years, in an attempt to establish statistically significant, well-proven evidence. Compared to other related studies, which often offer contradictory results on the topic, this one is distinguished by the large amount of data from many different sources, which gives it special credibility, as well as the backing of its indisputably eminent authors.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Seeing Red, Feeling Blue: Fordham Historians Discuss the 2016 Election

Following the 2016 election this month, a panel of historians at Fordham University discussed the results and President-Elect Trump through the lenses of different historical perspectives on November 22, 2016.

The panelists discussed several issues including, but not limited to, Latino/hispanic votes, immigration, fascism and the “alt-right,” mistrust of the United States government, misogyny, white supremacy, Islamophobia, women’s rights and more.

The panel was comprised of faculty with various levels of expertise in diverse fields of history:

img_7889Sal Acosta, Ph.D., United States history and United States Latino/Hispanic history

Christopher Dietrich, Ph.D., United States history and foreign policy, specifically post-WW2 era

Kirsten Swinth, Ph.D., Gender and history, sexuality and harassment

Magda Teter, Ph.D., European history

 

To listen to this discussion, please play the audio below:

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Pedophilia: Prevention or Paternalism?

by Mike Reaves

“There is no cure, so the focus is on protecting children.”[i]

Harvard Medical Health Letter, July 2010

Pedophilia, or the sexual attraction to children who have yet to reach puberty, continues to perplex clinicians and researchers in the 21st century. There is often much confusion surrounding this term, as society commonly groups pedophiles alongside child molesters. However, not all persons with these sexual interests actually act on them. Many individuals who have these sexual preferences stay celibate their entire lives. While there may be no cure for pedophilia, there are new treatment options that may be available to the public in 2018.

Researchers at Karolinska Institute in Sweden are attempting to fund a full-scale scientific drug trial that may provide hope for those seeking treatment. Dr. Christoffer Ramm is the principal investigator of this research study; his background includes research on the neuropsychological aspects of psychosis. His team refers to their work with the acronym PRIOTAB, or “Pedophilia at Risk – Investigations of Treatment and Biomarkers,” a collective that seeks to make society safer – both for children and those who suffer from these complex disorders. In their study proposal, Priotab notes that in Sweden 10% of boys and 5% of girls are sexually assaulted; and individuals with pedophilic disorder commit 50% of these assaults.[ii] The Priotab team claims that they can repurpose the pharmaceutical drug Degarelix, which has typically been used to treat prostate cancer. The team believes an effective treatment will reduce the social stigma associated with seeking treatment for pedophilia and also protect those who cannot protect themselves.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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After the election bioethics faces a rocky road

By Arthur Caplan

Academic bioethics has never been popular with Republicans. Libertarians dislike academic bioethics because it seems too elitist and anti-free market.  Religious thinkers worry it is technocratic, soulless and crassly utilitarian. Now with Trumpism add a populist disdain for expertise, experts and the scientific method and you have a stew that means few of you reading this will find a rapt audience in Washington for many years to come.

Donald Trump needs to appease the paleocons and religious right to get things done. This makes it likely that bioethics will be swept back into the culture wars of the Bush era. Abortion, contraception, sexuality, embryo research, gene engineering, enhancement issues, chimera formation, gender reassignment–all are back on the table.

Existing oversight of human research—FDA, OHRP, etc., will be strongly challenged as too restrictive and inimical to autonomy. “Conscience” will be very much in vogue. The vaccine wars will heat up in terms of mandates and choice. Individual rights will dominate arguments favoring the public good. Public health ethics will become hugely contentious.

Trump and a GOP congress mean the end of the ACA.  Academic bioethics will be more “oppositional,” more concerned for the vulnerable while being accused of being both elitist and overtly partisan.

In policy there will be more disrespect in government for science, “facts,” and scientific expertise. Worries about conflicts of interest will wane.

This means a rejection of scientific consensus about climate, vaccines, and evolution. The need for clinical trials to gain access to drugs or devices will be challenged–hard. The role of pollution in spoiling health will be disputed and, since bioethics is not tightly connected to environmental ethics, it had better rethink that gap. Scientific

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

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Bioethics faces a rocky but navigable road

by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.

Academic bioethics has never been popular with Republicans.  Libertarians dislike academic bioethics because it seems too elitist and anti-free market.  Religious thinkers worry it is technocratic, soulless and crassly utilitarian.  Now with Trumpism add a populist disdain for expertise, experts and the scientific method and you have a stew that means few of you reading this will find a rapt audience in Washington for many years to come.

Trump needs to appease the paleocons and religious righ to get things done.  This makes it likely that bioethics will be swept back into the culture wars of the Bush era — Abortion. Contraception. Sexuality. Embryo research.  Gene engineering.  Enhancement issues.  Chimera formation.   Gender reassignment.   All are back on the table.

Existing oversight of human research—FDA, OHRP, ETC., will be strongly challenged as too restrictive and inimical to autonomy. “Conscience” will be very much in vogue.  The vaccine wars will heat up in terms of mandates and choice.  Individual rights will dominate arguments favoring the public good. Public health ethics will become hugely contentious.

Trump and a GOP congress mean the end of the ACA.  Academic bioethics will be more ‘oppositional’, more concerned for the vulnerable while being accused of being both elitist and overtly partisan.

In policy there will be more disrespect in government  for science, ‘facts’ and scientific expertise. Worries about COI will wane.

This means a rejection of scientific consensus about climate, vaccines, evolution.  The need for clinical trials to gain access to drugs or devices will be challenged—hard.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.