Paternalism and Competent Patient Choice in the Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender-Nonconforming People
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In 2016 physicians in Ontario will be granted the authority to refer patients with gender dysphoria for sex reassignment surgery. In order to be granted this authority physicians must be trained in the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care, which outlines healthcare procedures for the treatment of gender dysphoria and provides background information concerning transgender health. The Standards of Care require that patients undergo a process of 12 months of continuous living in a gender role that is congruent with their gender identity prior to being given access to sex reassignment surgery. While this requirement can sometimes be helpful it can also cause more harm than benefit. This paper argues that the requirement is strongly paternalistic in its current form and should no longer be mandatory in most cases.