Enhancing Gender

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 19 (2):225-237 (2022)
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Abstract

Transgender healthcare faces a dilemma. On the one hand, access to certain medical interventions, including hormone treatments or surgeries, where desired, may be beneficial or even vital for some gender dysphoric trans people. But on the other hand, access to medical interventions typically requires a diagnosis, which, in turn, seems to imply the existence of a pathological state—something that many transgender people reject as a false and stigmatizing characterization of their experience or identity. In this paper we argue that developments from the human enhancement debate can help clarify or resolve some of the conceptual and ethical entanglements arising from the apparent conflict between seeking medicine while not necessarily suffering from a pathology or disorder. Specifically, we focus on the welfarist account of human enhancement and argue it can provide a useful conceptual framework for thinking about some of the more contentious disagreements about access to transgender healthcare services.

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