Sunday, April 27, 2014

Uterus Transplants for Transgender Women?

Clinical researchers in Sweden have been busy with a project to transplant uteruses into women who cannot gestate children of their own.  They carried out 9 such transplants in early 2014.

Apparently, some of these transplants have failed, but researchers have carried out embryo transfers with some of the women, in order to secure a pregnancy for them.

If uterus transplants are successful in women, would this kind of assisted gestation work for others, for men or transgender women? I am working on an analysis of this question, which is not ready for public presentation yet, but if anyone wants to contact me about it, feel free.

In the main, some of the key questions are these:  If uterus transplant proves safe and effective for women, would there be any morally significant reason why men or transgender women should not be eligible for the same opportunity for gestation?

Getting to that point of safe and effective uterus transplants for those parties would require a focused line of research, over and above the study of uterus transplantation for non-transgendered women.

Now, some commentators object to the idea that the state has any duty to sponsor research of this kind. They would limit all publicly-funded fertility research to sex-typical ways of having children, which they construe as the basis of reproductive rights.

This objection has no force at all against privately-funded research. If private researchers want to pay for this research, they get to decide how to spend their money.

In any case not all social expenditures are responses to ‘rights’ properly speaking. The state spends lots of your money doing things that you don't have a 'right' to, such as beautification projects. Do you really have a right to a beautiful park system?  The state must spend its money wisely, of course, but if someone makes the case that it would raise the overall welfare of transgender women as a class to enable them to gestate, well, it would hard to say that the state should never spend its money that way.