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Queering Medical Ethics Toward a Profiteering Model of Human Body Mutilation

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

The medical ethic of “first do no harm” is being queered with an eye toward profiteering and the growth of the medical-industrial complex.

With improvements in the plastics initially used in surgeries in the early 1900s, to reconstruct the atrocious damage to those injured in war, the use of these plastics has blossomed into a cosmetic industry of chosen body modifications worth nearly 17 billion dollars annually. Causing harm to the human body for image enhancement to align with one’s self-chosen ideal has become more and more popular.

With advancements in technology, artificial intelligence, and an eye toward molding humans more closely with technology and AI, the medical ethic of “first do no harm,” is being shifted even more to accommodate these changes, until finally, we may see it disappear altogether as a solid principle of protection.

Transsexualism, up until the past decade, was a medical disorder, needing strict psychiatric and physician oversight to weigh the cost of harm to the human body incurred to alleviate the psychological suffering of patients. In the past two decades, it has quickly morphed into a new realm of identity medicine, driven by elites heavily invested in the medical-industrial complex. In this new realm, the ethic of “first do no harm” is further stretched to help actualize individual identities as they relate to the sexed body, overlaid with cultural sex-role stereotypes. Transsexualism has been rebranded to transgenderism for marketing purposes and is being sold to young people as if it were a new fashion line. The harm incurred by the human body is seen, in this new realm of identity medicine, as subordinate to any psychic pain or emotional discomfort the individual suffers from, or just their desire for self-actualization. With these changes, greater and greater harms to the human body are being justified, medical ethics stretched beyond imagining, for an ideal body that reflects each person’s imagination.

We are watching the queering of what medical ethics means, what harm means, and what the human body means. This is taking place on a global stage and within a corporate culture which is remaking their environments around this queering.

The queering, or destruction of what is normal for human bodies can be seen at other fronts of the medical industry as it intersects with corporate culture. In a recent paper by Richard B. Gibson, in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, the marker for what constitutes a disability is also being questioned and queered. In addressing Individuals with body integrity identity disorder (BIID) who wish to alter their bodies to address a feeling of incongruity between their body image and their physical embodiment, often via the surgical amputation of healthy limbs, Gibson discusses a social model of disability that queers the harm experienced through these procedures.

Gibson states, “this concept of harm is often based on a normative biomedical model of health and disability, a model which conflates amputation with impairment, and impairment with a disability.” His article seeks to challenge, or to queer this model, to queer harms and the medical ethics that would seek to avoid them, by reenvisioning the harm as only a matter of perception.

In the social model of disability that Gibson is establishing as a premise, healthy limb amputation is only seen as an impairment because society is not set up to accommodate it, to see it as a spectrum of human body difference.

He believes that “provided sufficient measures are put in place to ensure that those with atypical bodily constructions are not disadvantaged, the chronic harms of elective amputation would cease to be.” We see the same situation at Goldman Sachs and other corporations now, that are accommodating transsexualism, tuning the environment to accommodate the disorder by normalizing it as a sexual identity on a spectrum of sexual identities. It is to be seen as just another way to be human, not as a disorder. If you disagree openly, it is grounds for dismissal, censorship, and public vilification.

It is no longer considered harmful to stop young people’s puberty, to make cross-sex hormones readily available to them, and to perform drastic, life-long sex organ amputations as long as the society and corporate culture is rearranged to accommodate these bodily constructions.

This queering of medical ethics, to make invisible real bodily harm, is dismantling safeguards and boundaries of all kinds. The queering of sex, as if our bodies were parts, the changing of language that presents us as “menstruators,” as “women with penises,” as “gestators,” leaves our wholly sexed human bodies open to deconstruction for the profits of the medical-industrial complex which are sold back to us as liberation. But where does this purported freedom end, when elites driving this medical model of body dissociation are the same ones financially profiting from it?

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