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Jul 22, 2021
In the US, several states are making strong moves to ban medical treatment for transgender youth. The laws are intended to prohibit doctors from providing gender confirming hormone therapy, puberty blockers or gender-confirmation surgeries or from referring patients to other health care providers.
Claudia Cragg (Twitter: @claudiacragg) speaks here for @KGNU with stef shuster (Twitter: @stefshuster). shuster is an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University in Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Sociology. shuster earned their M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Iowa with a certificate in Gender Studies, and a B.A. in Sociology from Indiana University, Bloomington.
Broadly, their research and teaching interests include medical sociology, gender, inequality, and social movements.
In their book, Trans Medicine: The Emergence and Practice of Treating Gender (NYU Press, 2021), shuster makes an important intervention in how we understand the development of this field and how it is being used to "treat" gender identity today. Drawing on interviews with medical providers as well as ethnographic and archival research, shuster examines how health professionals approach patients who seek gender-affirming care. From genital reconstructions to hormone injections, the practice of trans medicine charts new medical ground, compelling medical professionals to plan treatments without wide-scale clinical trials to back them up. Relying on cultural norms and gut instincts to inform their treatment plans, shuster shows how medical providers' lack of clinical experience and scientific research undermines their ability to interact with patients, craft treatment plans, and make medical decisions. This situation defies how providers are trained to work with patients and creates uncertainty. As providers navigate the developing knowledge surrounding the medical care of trans folk, Trans Medicine offers a rare opportunity to understand how providers make decisions while facing challenges to their expertise and, in the process, have acquired authority not only over clinical outcomes, but over gender itself.