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Ashley, Florence. Gatekeeping Hormone Replacement Therapy for Transgender Patients is Dehumanising
2019, The Journal of Medical Ethics. 45: 480-482.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner
Abstract: Although informed consent models for prescribing hormone replacement therapy are becoming increasingly prevalent, many physicians continue to require an assessment and referral letter from a mental health professional prior to prescription. Drawing on personal and communal experience, the author argues that assessment and referral requirements are dehumanising and unethical, foregrounding the ways in which these requirements evidence a mistrust of trans people, suppress the diversity of their experiences and sustain an unjustified double standard in contrast to other forms of clinical care. Physicians should abandon this unethical requirement in favour of an informed consent approach to transgender care.

Comment: Ashley draws on their own experiences as a trans person, as well as that of the trans community more broadly, to argue against assessment and referral requirements for hormone-replacement therapy (HRT). Ashley argues instead for an informed consent model, on which providers of HRT are not gatekeepers of transness, but facilitators of thoughtful decision-making.

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Priest, Maura. Transgender Children and the Right to Transition: Medical Ethics When Parents Mean Well but Cause Harm
2019, The American Journal of Bioethics. 19 (2): 45-59.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner
Abstract: In this article, I argue that (1) transgender adolescents should have the legal right to access puberty-blocking treatment (PBT) without parental approval, and (2) the state has a role to play in publicizing information about gender dysphoria. Not only are transgender children harmed psychologically and physically via lack of access to PBT, but PBT is the established standard of care. Given that we generally think that parental authority should not go so far as to (1) severally and permanently harm a child and (2) prevent a child from access to standard physical care, then it follows that parental authority should not encompass denying gender-dysphoric children access to PBT. Moreover, transgender children without supportive parents cannot be helped without access to health care clinics and counseling to facilitate the transition. Hence there is an additional duty of the state to help facilitate sharing this information with vulnerable teens.

Comment: Priest argues that the state should provide puberty-blocking treatment (PBT) for trans youth, even if their parents are not supportive. Priest’s argument is important partly because it avoids the issue of whether adolescents and children can give properly informed consent. This is a point that some of Priest’s critics seem to have missed (see, for example, Laidlaw et al. 2019. “The Right to Best Care for Children Does Not Include the Right to Medical Transition”, and Harris et al. 2019. “Decision Making and the Long-Term Impact of Puberty Blockade in Transgender Children”). Priest’s conclusion is founded instead on a principle of harm avoidance.

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Ray, Keisha. It’s Time for a Black Bioethics
2021, The American Journal of Bioethics. 21(2): 38–40.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner
Abstract: There are some long-standing social issues that imperil Black Americans' relationship with health and healthcare. These issues include racial disparities in health outcomes (Barr 2014), provider bias and racism lessening their access to quality care (Sabin et al. 2009), disproportionate police killings (DeGue, Fowler, and Calkins 2016), and white supremacy and racism which encourage poor health (Williams and Mohammed 2013). Bioethics, comprised of humanities, legal, science, and medical scholars committed to ethical reasoning is prima facie well suited to address these problems and influence solutions in the form of policy and education. Bioethics, however, so far has shown only a minimal commitment to Black racial justice.

Comment: In this short, seminal piece, Keisha Ray argues that bioethics needs to address issues of health and well-being of Black individuals. She applies Beauchamp and Childress’s famous four principles of bioethics to a particular issue: the disproportionate maternal mortality rate of Black women in the United States. Ray argues bioethics must incorporate the lens of Black bioethics, if the discipline is to remain relevant.

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Stramondo, Joseph A.. Tragic Choices: Disability, Triage, and Equity Amidst a Global Pandemic
2021, The Journal of Philosophy of Disability. 1: 201–210.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner
Abstract: In this paper, I make three arguments regarding Crisis Standards of Care developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. First, I argue against the consideration of third person quality of life judgments that deprioritize disabled or chronically ill people on a basis other than their survival, even if protocols use the language of health to justify maintaining the supposedly higher well-being of non-disabled people. Second, while it may be unavoidable that some disabled people are deprioritized by triage protocols that must consider the likelihood that someone will survive intensive treatment, Crisis Standards of Care should not consider the amount or duration of treatment someone may need to survive. Finally, I argue that, rather than parsing who should be denied treatment to maximize lives saved, professional bioethicists should have put our energy into reducing the need for such choices at all by resisting the systemic injustices that drive the need for triage.

Comment: Stramondo critiques triage protocols that were put into place, or at least proposed, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stramondo argues that protocols that prioritize quality of life involve ableist commitments. While chance-of-survival protocols might do better here, he argues that they are also vulnerable to creeping ableism. Stramondo’s paper is valuable not only for its perspective on triage protocols, but also for highlighting some crucial theoretical contributions by philosophers of disability and by bioethicists. Stramondo also argues not to cede too much ground to fatalism in thinking about triage protocols; bioethicists should also, and perhaps primarily, resist the framing of triage as inevitable, rather than a product of various privileged interests.

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Wilson, Yolonda, et al.. Intersectionality in Clinical Medicine: The Need for a Conceptual Framework
2019, The American Journal of Bioethics. 19(2): 8–19.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner
Abstract: Intersectionality has become a significant intellectual approach for those thinking about the ways that race, gender, and other social identities converge in order to create unique forms of oppression. Although the initial work on intersectionality addressed the unique position of black women relative to both black men and white women, the concept has since been expanded to address a range of social identities. Here we consider how to apply some of the theoretical tools provided by intersectionality to the clinical context. We begin with a brief discussion of intersectionality and how it might be useful in a clinical context. We then discuss two clinical scenarios that highlight how we think considering intersectionality could lead to more successful patient–clinician interactions. Finally, we extrapolate general strategies for applying intersectionality to the clinical context before considering objections and replies.

Comment: Wilson et al. argue that intersectionality is an important concept in clinical practice. They clarify the concept and distinguish their call for intersectionality from nearby claims. For instance, they argue that intersectionality goes beyond mere cultural competence that healthcare providers are already trained in, at least to some degree. Their paper is anchored around two fictionalized case studies, which they use to make vivid and explain their central claims. They end by responding to objections, including the very idea of intersectionality itself.

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Yearby, Ruqaiijah. Race Based Medicine, Colorblind Disease: How Racism in Medicine Harms Us All
2021, The American Journal of Bioethics. 21(2): 19–27.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner
Abstract: The genome between socially constructed racial groups is 99.5%-99.9% identical; the 0.1%-0.5% variation between any two unrelated individuals is greatest between individuals in the same racial group; and there are no identifiable racial genomic clusters. Nevertheless, race continues to be used as a biological reality in health disparities research, medical guidelines, and standards of care reinforcing the notion that racial and ethnic minorities are inferior, while ignoring the health problems of Whites. This article discusses how the continued misuse of race in medicine and the identification of Whites as the control group, which reinforces this racial hierarchy, are examples of racism in medicine that harm all us. To address this problem, race should only be used as a factor in medicine when explicitly connected to racism or to fulfill diversity and inclusion efforts.

Comment: Yearby argues that appeals to racial categories—social, but especially biological—in medicine harm people from all races, including those from dominant racial groups, like Whites. Yearby first gives evidence for the claim that there is no biological reality to race. She then argues that the continued use of racial categorization in medicine—for instance, as a basis for different standards of care—leads to worse outcomes for all. For example, because Whites are often the de facto standard group in healthcare, their worse health outcomes are sometimes overlooked. Yearby ends by making suggestions for improving the categorization of people in healthcare.

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