(Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam)
Teun Zuiderent-Jerak (VU Amsterdam)
Paper Short Abstract:
We tried to understand the ‘issue’ of our new research project–on trans* health in Argentina–and failed. Focusing on the ‘issue’, we were unable to prehend that disruption of 'social normalcy' only worked as a collective cosmopolitical project. What cosmopolitics is issue-focused STS missing out on?
Paper long abstract:
The relationship between clinical evidence and health activism has been an important theme in STS for decades. But perhaps STS has privileged two possible relations between evidence and activism: first, the challenging of the normalcy produced through evidence on a specific issue by activists, or second, the inclusion of activists in the production of evidence, conceptualized as evidence-based activism. In contrast we explore quite other relations between evidence and activism, based on our ethnographic study of the development of a guide for trans* health in Argentina.
With the Argentinian senate unanimously passing the Ley de Identidad de Género, which defines gender identity as "the inner and individual gender experience as each person feels it", citizens are free to choose their gender and alter their official documents accordingly without medical, administrative, or legal gatekeeping. Treatment to meet the gender experience through bodily modifications are covered by the Plan Médico Obligatorio, the national health plan.
We study the developers of the corresponding health guide at the Ministry of Health. They approach gender health as a matter of caring for heterogeneity rather than as one of making the transition from a biological male to female or vice versa. We analyze both their attempt to rethink binary-enforcing clinical evidence from a human rights perspective, as well as our inability to understand their collective cosmopolitics. Where we were trying to study the 'issue' of trans* health, we failed to see that difference only worked by approaching disruption of 'social normalcy' as a collective cosmopolitical project.
Cosmopolitical Research and STS