What’s at Stake?

Originally posted at Transcendence: Youth Trans Critical Professionals

Social acceptance of gender-nonconforming people is something we as professionals can generally support and feel good about.

But what about body modification?

In an upbeat, breezy tone, the author treats “body modification,” “surgery,” and “hormones” casually. Like, it’s no big deal to take a “low dose of testosterone” for decade upon decade. In fact, cross-sex hormones given to gender dysphoric young people are being used off label. Very little is known about the long-term effects of these drugs, and we are unlikely to know more for quite awhile.  Meanwhile, some of the potential effects of taking testosterone as a natal female, for example, are permanent or serious including: an increased risk for breast and uterine cancer; deepened voice; possible baldness; liver problems; and growth of facial hair. Surgery in this case refers to removal or modification of healthy tissue. There can be serious complications with such surgeries, and of course they are irreversible, often resulting in sterility, depending on the procedure.

How is it ethical that we as professionals support and encourage young people in undergoing such treatments for the sake of “gender expression?” I would personally favor legislation making it very difficult for young people to access these treatments until they are in their late 20’s. I understand this would mean asking some people to live in a way that felt inauthentic or painful, but it would spare the pain that many might feel in the future when they wake up to realize they have permanently mutilated themselves.

We must be more critical of the assumption that medical intervention is the best option, that is it no big deal, that it is a choice to be celebrated for its “bravery.”

Continue reading…

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