Identity in Development: Dysphoria in Minors
by J2r0c on February 9, 2017 - 12:36pm
We live in a day and age where identity plays an incredibly vital role in our conception of the self. With the ever-rapid expansion of the digital world, we are pressed to consider the nature of our identities in a time where mediums like the Internet allow us to exist through identity alone. This evolution in our view of the self has led to dilemmas such as the ethical use of hormone blocking, in which prepubescent minors are given chemical treatment to prevent the onset of puberty, raising many questions about the moral implications of transgender treatment on children. Is it moral to allow a child to make a decision related to their mental and physical health before reaching full maturity? Is it wrong to keep the treatment that may drastically improve the life of a young transgender person out of reach based on the idea that they are too young to know what they really are? Should parents be granted the authority to make these decisions for their child? It is my opinion that hormone treatments are ethically irresponsible, and that they can result in a far greater moral conundrum if used improperly than the benefit they can have for non-binary and trans children.
If we consider our approach from an ethical perspective, we are faced with choosing which framework to operate under. One of the most simultaneously irritating, yet liberating issues that arises when deciding on an ethical methodology to tackle this comes from the fact that there isn’t a single set-in-stone way to do so. If we approach the issue from the perspective of someone using virtue ethics, our analysis will be based on the integrity of the person in question’s character and the virtuous qualities of the course of action we choose. Unfortunately, knowing how virtuous your doctor is does little to help us reach a conclusion about how capably he practices medicine. From a utilitarian perspective, we can assert that the best course of action lies with whatever will provide the greatest happiness for the patient in question, which on the surface is all well and good, but ultimately leads us right back to where we started with even more questions than answers. How can we be certain what will make the patient happy? What if they regret their decision later in life, and are made unhappy and regretful? Due to this, utilitarianism has little insight to offer when extrapolating a conclusion to this dilemma. Finally, if we apply the ethical rationalist perspective, we may start getting somewhere.
Deontology asserts that the greatest way to keep everyone moral and good is the application of strict maxims, and looking at our maxims for society already, we may have a clear answer to this issue right under our noses. Typically, societies’ rules for minors are clear; You cannot drink, vote, drive, or make any other kind of life-changing or personal decision without your parent or guardian’s consent. So why should this be any different? If a child is incapable of thinking for themselves according to the maxims of society, then the simplest conclusion that can be made is that children are simply not capable of determining their best interests, whether or not their identity is at stake.