Trans Medicine

Happy Pride! This week's review takes a sociological approach to trans medicine, tracing the history and development of gender-affirming care.

Trans Medicine: The Emergence and Practice of Treating Gender

shuster, stef m. New York University, 2021
224p bibl index, 9781479845378 $89.00, 9781479899371 $27.00, 9781479842810

This text illustrates an important intersection of transgender studies and medical sociology by examining the history of medical providers treating transgender patients from the 1950s to the current day. Drawing on a combination of resources including archival data, interviews, and personal observations of medical providers encountered at conferences, while framing their discussion through a lens of transgender advocacy, Shuster (Michigan State Univ.) unpacks concepts such as evidence, expertise, and legitimacy in a medical context. Because trans medicine is a newer, interdisciplinary field, practitioners including therapists, surgeons, and endocrinologists are shown to struggle with establishing expertise and legitimacy while balancing risk and uncertainty in their treatment of patients within professional norms. For example, providers use diagnostic categories to allow for treatment but also to standardize and regulate gender identity and transitions. Transgender patients must both conform to standards of legitimacy embraced by medical practitioners and submit to control and surveillance during their treatment. Shuster treads a difficult path between academic analysis and advocacy, and therefore this work should be contextualized and valued as counterbalancing prevailing conservative medical institutional narratives. Shuster’s work will fit well for gender studies, medical history, medical anthropology and sociology, science and technology studies, transgender studies, and bioethics courses.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals. General readers.
S. M. Weiss, Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers
Interdisciplinary Subjects: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Studies
Subject: Science & Technology – Health Sciences
Choice Issue: Jan 2022

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