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Authenticity, intersubjectivity and the ethics of changing sex / Paddy McQueen

Journal of Gender Studies, Volume: 25, Issue: 5, Pages: 557 - 570

Swansea University Author: McQueen, Paddy

Abstract

This paper examines how particular conceptions of the self shape discussions about the ethics of changing sex. I argue that much of the debate surrounding sex change presupposes a model of the self as authentic and/or atomistic. This is evident in both contemporary medical discourses and the recent...

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Published in: Journal of Gender Studies
ISSN: 0958-9236 1465-3869
Published: 2016
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa48272
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Abstract: This paper examines how particular conceptions of the self shape discussions about the ethics of changing sex. I argue that much of the debate surrounding sex change presupposes a model of the self as authentic and/or atomistic. This is evident in both contemporary medical discourses and the recent work of Rubin (2003). Such a conception of the self results in a problematic account of important ethical issues arising from the desire and decision to change sex/gender. I suggest that by moving to a properly intersubjective and performative model of the self, we can better understand (1) the diagnosis of transsexuality; and (2) issues of success, failure and regret with regard to changing sex. I also reveal the important implications this shift has for how the relationship between medical practitioners and trans individuals is understood. I conclude by showing how the model of the self as authentic can individualise identity and thus downplay or overlook the tight intertwinement between self and other. A properly intersubjective, performative concept of the gendered self places other people at the centre of both an individual's attempt at self-transformation and the ethical issues that arise during this process.
Keywords: Authenticity; Gender; Identity; Intersubjectivity; Regret; Trans identities
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Issue: 5
Start Page: 557
End Page: 570