Performing informed consent in transgender medicine

Performing informed consent in transgender medicine
Shuster SM
Social Science and Medicine, 3 March 2019; 226 pp 190-197
Using in-depth interviews with 23 physical and mental healthcare providers and observations at transgender-specific healthcare conferences between 2012 and 2015, I examine how medical providers negotiate informed consent processes in their clinical encounters with trans patients. While a growing body of scholarship has examined informed consent in scientific research from the patient’s perspective, a gap remains in how informed consent is understood in clinical encounters, and from providers’ perspectives. I use the case of trans medicine, an emergent field of medicine that has not yet implemented standardized procedures or policies that shape providers’ decision-making. I demonstrate how many providers of trans medicine give voice to following informed consent, but fail to actually practice it in their work with trans patients. In performing informed consent, providers revert to a paternalistic model of care, which amplifies their medical authority while veiling power differentials in their clinical encounters and decision-making in trans medicine.

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