Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Uterus Transplants: Are They in the Cards for Transgender Women?

Some commentators want the state to support infertility research only in bioconservative ways.These commentators think the state should spend only to help people have children in their given sex, namely as people born men or born women.

Where does this leave transgender women and men?

By way of partial answer, I have written an analysis that opens the door to state support for research to help transgender women gestate children.

That article will be coming out shortly in the academic journal, Bioethics. 

Ahead of that publication, here's a short summary of how I make the case that the state could have some responsibility for helping transgender women have children.  Along the way, I ask a fairly important question:  does the state have to presume that you are one sex and that you will only remain one sex for the entirety of your life?  It turns out that answer to this question is not an obvious 'yes.'

Assisted Gestation and Transgender Women
Timothy F. Murphy
Abstract. Developments in uterus transplantation put the prospects for assisted gestation within meaningful range of clinical success for women with uterine infertility who want to gestate children. As this kind of transplantation becomes increasingly safe and effective for those 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 the point of safe and effective uterus transplantation for those parties would require a focused line of research, over and above the study of uterus transplantation for non-transgender women. 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 against privately-funded research, of course, and in any case not all social expenditures are responses to ‘rights’ properly speaking. Another possible objection raised against gestation by transgender women is that it could alter the social meaning of sexed bodies. This line of argument fails, however, to substantiate a meaningful objection to gestation by transgender women because social meanings of sexed bodies do not remain constant and because the change in this case would not elicit social effects significant enough to justify closing off gestation to transgender women as a class. (Forthcoming in Bioethics.)

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