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Ethics of Management of Gender Atypical Organisation in Children and Adolescents

  • Simona Giordano
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 42)

Abstract

Atypical gender identity organisation (AGIO) is a serious medical condition in which the phenotypical appearance is experienced as alien by the person affected. AGIO is source of great distress, and obtaining medical treatment is for many a life-or-death matter. Many of those who cannot receive treatment are at high risk of suicide. AGIO is not only a problem of personal health, but also a public problem, because sufferers are often exposed to discrimination, abuse and violence, and each act of discrimination, abuse and violence is a public issue. Thinking about AGIO represents a great challenge for us all. It involves rethinking about gender identity in a more comprehensive way, inclusive of phenomena that go beyond the classic gender divide ‘male-female’, and thinking of ways of ensuring all citizens, whatever their gender identity, a secure and peaceful place in society. I explain what AGIO is, how it manifests itself, and provide a brief history of AGIO. I offer an overview of risks and benefits of available treatments. I analyse the ethico-legal issues that surround AGIO. In particular, ethics of interfering with natural development, competence in minors, validity of informed consent, role of the family, moral and legal responsibility of professionals for omission of treatment and ageism. I conclude that medical treatment should be offered, even to minors just after the onset of puberty, if the child has a profound and persisting AGIO, if she/he is competent to make a judgement on the matter, and if treatment is likely to enhance his/her quality of life. Deferring treatment till adulthood is not a morally neutral option, and it is indeed unethical, if the child is likely to be harmed by pubertal development.

Keywords

Gender identity disorder suspension of puberty acts/omission ageism competence in minors informed consent international guidelines for treatment of gender identity disorder 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simona Giordano
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Social Ethics and Policy and Institute of Medicine Law and BioethicsUK
  2. 2.Institute of Ethics Science and InnovationUniversity of ManchesterUK

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