Paper Title

Denial of Identity and Experience: An Analysis of Epistemic Injustices Towards Trans Persons in Health Care

Location

Room 222, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

Start Date

April 2016

End Date

April 2016

Keywords

Epistemic injustice, trans identities, health care, testimony, power, privilege

Abstract

In Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing, Miranda Fricker sets out a framework for understanding wrongs committed against individuals in their capacities as knowers, which she refers to as instances of epistemic injustice. She articulates two distinctive types of epistemic injustice, testimonial injustice and hermeneutical injustice. The former occurs when individuals are harmed in their capacities as givers of knowledge, while the latter occurs when individuals are wronged in their capacities as subjects of social understanding. I argue that when trans persons enter the health care context, they are at an increased risk for experiences of both forms of epistemic injustice, often having their testimonies discounted, being denied the status of knowers, and having to interact with others who appear unable to understand their experiences in a way that accurately corresponds with their own first personal accounts. In a health care framework in which physicians are already in positions of power and epistemic privilege over their patients, being regarded as experts over their patients’ bodies and health, I argue that this power hierarchy is intensified when the patients are further epistemically disadvantaged by their socially marginalized trans identities, making epistemic injustices more frequent and severe. I argue that these instances of epistemic injustice are both harmful to individuals, but are also systemically harmful insofar as they contribute to the widespread erasure and subsequent invisibility of trans identities and experiences. Potential solutions to the problem of epistemic injustices towards trans persons in health care are addressed, using Fricker’s concept of the “virtuous hearer” as a starting point, and expanding her position to consider necessary structural changes that would seek to address the gaps in knowledge and understanding of trans persons, and ultimately seeking widespread social and political change to improve the socially disadvantaged and marginalized position of trans individuals which contributes to their ongoing epistemic disadvantage.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 2nd, 3:30 PM Apr 2nd, 4:45 PM

Denial of Identity and Experience: An Analysis of Epistemic Injustices Towards Trans Persons in Health Care

Room 222, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

In Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing, Miranda Fricker sets out a framework for understanding wrongs committed against individuals in their capacities as knowers, which she refers to as instances of epistemic injustice. She articulates two distinctive types of epistemic injustice, testimonial injustice and hermeneutical injustice. The former occurs when individuals are harmed in their capacities as givers of knowledge, while the latter occurs when individuals are wronged in their capacities as subjects of social understanding. I argue that when trans persons enter the health care context, they are at an increased risk for experiences of both forms of epistemic injustice, often having their testimonies discounted, being denied the status of knowers, and having to interact with others who appear unable to understand their experiences in a way that accurately corresponds with their own first personal accounts. In a health care framework in which physicians are already in positions of power and epistemic privilege over their patients, being regarded as experts over their patients’ bodies and health, I argue that this power hierarchy is intensified when the patients are further epistemically disadvantaged by their socially marginalized trans identities, making epistemic injustices more frequent and severe. I argue that these instances of epistemic injustice are both harmful to individuals, but are also systemically harmful insofar as they contribute to the widespread erasure and subsequent invisibility of trans identities and experiences. Potential solutions to the problem of epistemic injustices towards trans persons in health care are addressed, using Fricker’s concept of the “virtuous hearer” as a starting point, and expanding her position to consider necessary structural changes that would seek to address the gaps in knowledge and understanding of trans persons, and ultimately seeking widespread social and political change to improve the socially disadvantaged and marginalized position of trans individuals which contributes to their ongoing epistemic disadvantage.