Social and Medical Gender Transition and Acceptance of Biological Sex

Christian Bioethics 26 (3):243–268 (2020)
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Biological sex should be “acknowledged” and “accepted”—but which responses to gender dysphoria might this preclude? Trans-identified people may factually acknowledge their biological sex and regard transition as purely palliative. While generally some level of self-deception and even a high level of nonlying deception of others are sometimes justified, biological sex is important, and there is a nontrivial onus against even palliative, nonsexually motivated cross-dressing. The onus is higher against co-opting the body, even in a minor and/or reversible way, to make a false communication concerning one’s sex. Hardest to defend is the destruction of sexual–reproductive functions and causally downstream functions such as lactation: due to the transcendent nature of sexual–reproductive functions, an appeal to the “principle of totality” here is misplaced. This is not to say that social, and milder medical, transition is absolutely excluded even for severe unmanageable dysphoria, nor that subsequent to any transition, detransition is necessarily required.

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Helen Watt
University of Edinburgh (PhD)


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