Trans Health and Transitioning in Western Europe

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 10:00
Location: Hörsaal 6B P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Milou VAN DER HOEK, University of Lisbon, Portugal
My aim is to research how medical laws and protocols deal with the transition processes of trans people in Western Europe, more particularly in Portugal, the UK and the Netherlands. This inquiry will take place within the ERC funded project “TRANSRIGHTS - Gender citizenship and sexual rights in Europe”.

Sociological research on transgender has shifted from a focus on psychiatric/medical discourse on the ‘true’ transsexual to performativity and later to transgression and subversiveness (Hird 2002). Research has focused greatly on identity formation and the deconstruction of the gender binary.

Namaste (2005) and Connell (2012) have argued this theorizing has often rendered the lived experiences and daily struggles of transgender people, and particularly transsexuals, invisible.

Transitioning is of major importance in a transsexual person’s life (Prosser 1998). This is also true for others such as many transgender, genderqueer and cross-dressing people. Transitioning is crucial to a person’s self-identity and has much practical implications for their life. National laws and medical protocols dealing with transitioning are of utmost importance for trans people as they depend on it for (required) diagnoses, access to hormonal, surgical or psychological treatments and related issues such as waiting lists and times.

According to Namaste (2005) a lot of research on transgender issues is rooted in Anglo-American imperialism. Vidal-Ortiz (2008) argues more comparative research is needed in other parts of the world. Since transitioning is key for many people, it is important not to forget the often more invisible categories in medical codification or in sociological research (e.g. trans with no desire to break the gender binary).

Following a comparative approach, I will critically analyze the laws and medical protocols in order to get a view of the functioning of the ‘medical transition system’ of Western Europe and the necessary implications it has on trans people´s lives.