J R. Latham (Deakin) presented the ‘First Friday’ seminar on Trans Men and the Ontological Politics of Medicine at Deakin Downtown on 2 August 2019. 

About the seminar

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 mobilising philosophical insights from STS, I show how care for trans people could be improved by active engagement with individual interventions and patients.

See J. R. Latham's profile

About the Series

Deakin University Gender and Sexuality Studies holds a public monthly seminar series on the first Friday of each month at Deakin Downtown in Melbourne’s CBD.

Find out more and register for future seminars

Monthly postgraduate workshops are also open to Deakin University students.



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