A philosophy professor from Arizona State University recently had a paper published in an academic journal wherein she argued that parents should lose "veto power" over their children's gender transition.
The issue of medical ethics is as old as the practice of medicine itself, and for many, the big questions now revolve around agency. In the case of most medical procedures, adults are free to choose what they do and do not want done to their bodies, while children require the signing off of a parent or guardian. When it comes to gender transition medical care, however, some are seeking to change these rules to give children more autonomy.
Among them is Arizona State University philosophy professor Maura Priest. She recently published an academic paper making the case that parents should essentially take a back seat to their child's gender transition. In the paper, Priest first claims that puberty-blocking treatment (PBT) is "the established standard of care" for children with gender dysphoria. She then follows that line of reasoning:
"Given that we generally think that parental authority should not go so far as to (1) severally and permanently harm a child and (2) prevent a child from access to standard physical care, then it follows that parental authority should not encompass denying gender-dysphoric children access to PBT."
As the Daily Wire's Chrissy Clark notes, Priest uses arguments made by other scholars in the field, such as Melbourne Law School researcher Lauren Notini, but takes them one step further, suggesting that the lived experience of LGBT individuals should trump professional medical opinion.
"If the medical community is to take LGBT testimony seriously (as they should)," Priest writes, "then it is no longer the job of physicians to do their own weighing of the costs and benefits of transition-related care. Assuming the patient is informed and competent, then only the patient can make this assessment because only the patient has access to the true weight of transition-related benefits."
Priest then sets forth her contentious claim that "taking LGBT patient testimony seriously also means that parents should lose veto power over most transition-related pediatric care." The Daily Wire's Chrissy Clark reports that Priest "used this line of logic to assert that 'guardian veto power' is an obstacle to 'justice' because 'such power means one trans child is denied the care that another receives'."
Priest was asked in an interview with Campus Reform whether it is ethical for a doctor to accommodate the wishes of someone who "strongly wants to cut off their arm or leg." To her credit, Priest remained logically consistent, stating that she thinks "when a patient is evaluated as otherwise psychologically capable that physicians do indeed act ethically by removing the limbs at the patient’s request."
Priest is only one of many academics calling for individual psychological desires to be given equal importance as professional, objective medical advice when making life altering decisions to one's body. Whether that will soon spill over into the healthcare industry remains to be seen.