Gender Affirmation and Loving Attention

Hypatia (forthcoming)
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In this article, I examine the moral dimensions of gender affirmation. I argue that the moral value of gender affirmation is rooted in what Iris Murdoch called loving attention. Loving attention is central to the moral value of gender affirmation because such affirmation is otherwise too fragile or insincere to have such value. Moral reasons to engage in acts that gender affirm derive from the commitment to give and express loving attention to trans people as a way of challenging their marginalization. In the latter part of the paper, I will discuss how my arguments bear on recent arguments by Robin Dembroff and Daniel Wodak (2018) on the use of gender-neutral language. They argue that we have a duty not to use gender-specific pronouns for anyone. Their conclusion turns, in part, on a rejection of gender affirmation as a moral duty. The value of gender affirmation, rooted in our moral perception of trans people, should make us skeptical of this conclusion, in favor of a more nuanced and pluralistic approach to the ethics of gendering.
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Archival date: 2021-03-18
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