Biomedicalization of Transgender: Sex and Gender in Postwar Medicine
In the broader transgender moment that we are currently experiencing, there seems to be a broad shift not only in the ways the rights of trans people are addressed but also in the ways gender and sex are perceived. This project aims to analyze the medical terms which have been used to characterize, define, distinguish and pathologize biological, psychological, and social sex and the extent to which these terms still have effect in the present. By so doing, we hope to shed light on the historical struggles and exercises of power within the field of transgender, in the medical discourse, in the public debate and among activists, that shaped the character of our current conceptions and practices. The three overarching research objectives are to: (1) analyze how the concepts of transvestitism and transsexualism came into being, how the concepts were defined in different periods, and how doctors diagnosed and treated patients who wanted sex change through the second half of the 20th century in practice; (2) explore the coming into being of the popular conception of transsexuality in the media, and among activists and politicians; (3) explore the particular experiences of transgender people and their meeting with the healthcare services and the perspectives of their caregivers. The study will draw on a range of material from archival material, published sources (including books, newspaper articles, and medical journal articles), analysis of medical records, and oral history interviews with transgender people, activists, and health professionals.
The project is part of the NRC-funded project Biomedicalizatiaon Inside Out: https://www.med.uio.no/helsam/english/research/projects/biomedicalization-inside-out/
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