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I am pleased to introduce this Symposium Edition of The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, which covers a wide variety of issues central to transgender health equity, including Dr. Jamison Green’s recent history of the impact of health policy on transgender communities, Dr. M. Killian Kinney, Ms. Taylor Pearson, and Prof. Julie Ralston Aoki’s transgender equity tool for legal policy analysis, and Prof. Elizabeth Kukura’s analysis of issues facing transgender, non-binary, and gender expansive people during pregnancy and childbirth.
The sheer gamut of issues impacting transgender health equity may seem overwhelming. This article seeks to introduce readers to the breadth of topics addressed in this symposium edition, exemplifying that transgender health equity is a global issue that demands an interdisciplinary approach.
Despite a recent wave in global recognition of the rights of transgender and gender-diverse populations, referred to in this text by the umbrella label of trans*, international law continues to presume a cisgender binary definition of gender — dismissing the lived realities of trans* individuals throughout the world. This gap in international legal recognition and protection has fundamental implications for health, where trans* persons have been and continue to be subjected to widespread discrimination in health care, longstanding neglect of health needs, and significant violations of bodily autonomy.
Transgender conversion practices involve attempts to alter, discourage, or suppress a person’s gender identity and/or desired gender presentation, including by delaying or preventing gender transition. Proponents of the practices have argued that they should be allowed until proven to be harmful. Drawing on the notion of expressive equality, I argue that conversion practices are prima facie unethical because they do not fulfill a legitimate clinical purpose and conflict with the self-understanding of trans communities.
In this manuscript, “Intersectional Structural Stigma, Community Priorities, and Opportunities for Transgender Health Equity,” Poteat and Simmons outline the legal and policy barriers that impede efforts to end the HIV epidemic among transgender people in the South. They present qualitative and quantitative data from a community engaged research study conducted with transgender adults and other key stakeholders as well as finding from an analysis of policies impacting transgender people in both states. Violence prevention and decriminalization are highlighted as key policy initiatives that would advance health equity for transgender people.
Many transgender people need specific medical services to affirm their gender. Gender-affirming health care services may include mental health support, hormone therapy, and reconstructive surgeries. Scant information is available about the utilization or costs of these services among transgender people, which hinders the ability of insurance regulators, health plans, and other health care organizations to plan and budget for the health care needs of this population and to ensure that transgender people can access medically necessary gender-affirming care. This study used almost three decades of commercial insurance claims from a proprietary database containing data on more than 200 million people to identify temporal trends in the provision of gender-affirming hormone therapy and surgeries and to quantify the costs of these services.
This article examines the barriers to quality health care for transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive people (TGE) who become pregnant and give birth, identifying three central themes that emerge from the literature. These insights suggest that significant reform will be necessary to ensure access to safe, appropriate, gender-affirming care for childbearing TGE people. After illustrating the need for systemic changes that untether rigid gender norms from the provision of perinatal care, the article proposes that the Midwives Model of Care offers a set of values and clinical practices that are well-suited to meet the needs of many TGE patients during pregnancy and childbirth and which should be incorporated into the healthcare system more broadly.
Transgender inclusion within policy is critical yet often missing. We propose a policy tool to assesses human rights, access to resources and opportunities, language, and implications for transgender and nonbinary individuals. Acknowledging trans communities as standard policy practice can serve as an essential practice to shift dialogue and norms.
This essay describes an instrumental advocate’s development, engagement, and accomplishments in transgender health at the intersection of law and medicine. Reflecting on the evolution of insurance policy reforms in conjunction with the need to increase the availability of clinicians who can understand and respectfully treat transgender patients, the author demonstrates how visibility, tenacity, and ingenuity can create far-reaching change.
Over twenty years have passed since JLME published “The Girl Who Cried Pain: A Bias Against Women in the Treatment of Pain.” This article revisits the conclusions drawn in that piece and explores what we have learned in the last two decades regarding the experience of men and women who have chronic pain and whether women continue to be treated less aggressively for their pain than men.
As countries around the world work to restrict unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children, the U.S. remains reliant on industry-self regulation. The First Amendment’s protection for commercial speech and previous gutting of the Federal Trade Commission’s authority pose barriers to restricting food marketing to children. However, false, unfair, and deceptive acts and practices remain subject to regulation and provide an avenue to address marketing to young children, modern practices that have evaded regulation, and gaps in the food and beverage industry’s self-regulatory approach.
Circumvention tourism is a form of medical tourism that occurs when individuals travel abroad to receive treatments that are a prohibited in their home county but permitted in a destination country. This paper explores this question: Should individuals be punished by their home countries for engaging in circumvention tourism? Guido Pennings, Richard Huxtable, and I. Glenn Cohen have all argued for what I call “formalist accounts” of circumvention tourism. That is, they try to show that certain types of circumvention tourism should or should not be punished in principle. Against them, I show that questions about circumvention tourism’s punishability cannot be answered in the abstract. Whether individuals should be punished depends too much on the prima facie morality of the treatments being performed and the prohibitions being circumvented.
In the context of medical tourism, circumvention tourism consists of traveling abroad with the intention of participating in a health-related activity that is prohibited in one’s own country but not in the destination country. This practice raises a host of legal and ethical questions that focus on how the traveler should be treated once they have returned home. Joshua Shaw1 deftly shows that the question of whether circumvention tourists should be punished in their home countries is not something that can be answered in principle and without reference to the prima facie morality of the prohibition. This implicates formalist accounts of circumvention tourism developed by Pennings2 and Huxtable3 that argue against punishing travelers who access fertility treatments and medical assistance in dying abroad on the grounds that civic peace and stability require opportunities for individuals to travel internationally to access domestically prohibited medical services.
It is a huge pleasure to engage with Prof. Shaw’s careful and close reading of my article. Though almost a decade old, many of the issues are becoming only more relevant as it seems that Roe v Wade will be overruled in the U.S. and travel for abortion will become a sad reality.1 I appreciate how deeply Prof. Shaw interacts with my article and am full of praise for his work, but given the small space allocated here I only focus on our few places of disagreement.
This article reviews existing state laws related to autonomous vehicle (AV) safety, equity, and automobile insurance. Thirty states were identified with relevant legislation. Of these, most states had one or two relevant laws in place. Many of these laws were related to safety and insurance requirements. Data are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of these laws in order to guide further policy development.
Digital Health Technologies (DHTs) are currently the subject of much debate both in terms of their technological frontiers as well as their ethical, legal and societal implications (ELSI). Regulation of such technologies as medical devices currently lacks behind their level of adoption. Digital Twins are the next evolution step of such DHTs and provide an opportunity to anticipate and act on ELSI before adoption again leaps before the necessary review. This paper introduces the concept and use cases of digital twins in medicine, then frames the debate through the lens of related technologies, machine learning and personalized medicine, and maps ethical challenges stemming from those. Finally, we lay out how digital twins may change and challenge the future practice of medicine.
Mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT), also called nuclear genome transfer and mitochondrial donation, is a new technique that can be used to prevent the transmission of mitochondrial DNA diseases. Apart from the United Kingdom, the first country to approve MRT in 2015, Australia became the second country with a clear regulatory path for the clinical applications of this technique in 2021. The rapidly evolving clinical landscape of MRT makes the elaboration and evaluation of the responsible use of this technology a pressing matter. As jurisdictions with less strict or non-existent reproductive laws are continuing to use MRT in the clinical context, the need to address the underlying ethical issues surrounding MRT’s clinical translation is fundamental.
Translational science attempts to accelerate and increase the significance of research progressing from bench to bedside. Support from the NIH through its institutional grant program has increased the prominence and importance of translational science. The inclusion of a broadly based bioethics component to translational science presents an opportunity for bioethics scholars to address fundamental social issues, including the effects of translational science on public health, health equity, and human flourishing. Large-scale bioethical inquiries could examine research priorities, unintended consequences of research, and access to and uptake of research discoveries.
In a dynamic term of the United States Supreme Court in 2021-2022 a series of critical cases raise manifold changes and impacts on individual and communal health through 10 key areas ranging from abortions to vaccinations.