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Healthcare Professionals’ Conflicts When Treating Transgender Youth: Is It Necessary to Prioritize Protection Over Respect?

Paper by visiting researcher Maximiliane Hädicke included in the Special issue in the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics edited by Joona Räsänen on discrimination and prioritization


Authors: Maximiliane Hädicke , Manuel Föcker, Georg Romer and Claudia Wiesemann 

Increasingly, transgender minors are seeking medical care such as puberty-suppressing or gender-affirming hormone therapies. Yet, whether these interventions should be performed at all is highly controversial. Some healthcare practitioners oppose irreversible interventions, considering it their duty to protect children from harm. Others view minors, like adults, as transgender individuals who must be protected from discrimination. The underlying ethical question is presented as a problem of priority. Is it primarily relevant that minors are involved? Or should decision makers focus on the fact that they treat transgender individuals? The paper explores the relevance for medical practice. We provide results of an interview study with German healthcare professionals. We discuss the general question whether prioritization among different group memberships of the same person is ethically defensible. We conclude that priority conflicts between group memberships of the same person can be deceptive and should be addressed by an intersectional approach. Eventually, we discuss practical implications