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october, 2018

10oct12:30 pm2:00 pmBODILY: Neither Here Nor There: Testosterone’s Absence and the Politics of Transgender Medicine with J.R. Latham


Event Details

Neither Here Nor There: Testosterone’s Absence and the Politics of Transgender Medicine

How do practices of transgender medicine (re)produce cultural norms of gender, and to what effects? While there are always ways people resist and exceed these controls, overwhelmingly, treatment guidelines and their application demand that trans patients adhere to stereotypical understandings of sex-gender through rigorous psychiatric scrutiny and medical surveillance. For trans men, this means narrating their life experiences and expectations in line with dominant understandings of maleness and masculinity, and aesthetically, by using testosterone to sufficiently appear to be nontransgendered. Through research on mastectomies (surgical breast removal), I examine how access to treatment differs between nontrans men, trans men taking testosterone and those people designated female at birth who do not identify as men and/or do not take testosterone. By drawing on notions of performative realities and ontological politics from science and technology studies (STS), I argue that these practices act in constituting sex, gender and ‘gender dysphoria’ as static, predetermined and independent of medical encounters. This paradigm also relies on and reproduces dubious forms of ‘evidence’ that gender dysphoria is a psychiatric disorder, erasing the necessarily complex ways trans people experience gender. I consider what is lost in the ongoing practices of transgender medicine that continue to propel a trajectory of treatment that demands a package of pursuits that form a very narrow bridge of ‘changing sex’ from one stable sex category to the other. By mobilizing philosophical insights from STS, I show how care for trans people could be improved by active engagement with individual interventions and patients.

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About the Speaker

Dr. J.R. Latham is Honorary Fellow in Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia. His research combines science and technology studies, feminist theory and literary studies to critique the medical management of ‘gender dysphoria’ via the lived realities of trans men. He is an award-winning essayist and his work has been published in journals such as Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the Australasian Journal on Ageing, Feminist Theory, Sexualities and Studies in Gender and Sexuality.



(Wednesday) 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm


The Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality is the locus of interdisciplinary feminist and queer scholarship and teaching at Columbia University.

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