The concept of “transableism,” or Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID), is a controversial and relatively new topic that is beginning to gain attention in the media. Essentially, it involves individuals who have a desire to transform their bodies by amputating healthy limbs, snipping spinal cords, or destroying eyesight in order to obtain a physical impairment. While this concept is currently met with great resistance in both the disability activist and transgender communities, some advocates argue that it should be normalized and even medically treated in the same way as gender dysphoria.
The cases of Jørund Viktoria Alme and Jewel Shuping demonstrate the complexity and controversy surrounding the concept of Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) and transableism.
A senior credit analyst in Oslo, Norway, named Jørund Viktoria Alme, highlights the complexity of this disorder. Alme is an able-bodied male who identifies as a disabled transgender. In a public interview, Alme revealed a “lifelong wish” to have been born “a woman paralyzed from the waist down”.
Another case that garnered significant media attention was that of Jewel Shuping, a North Carolina woman who identified as blind and took drastic measures to make her wish a reality. According to multiple reports, the woman sought out a rogue doctor to help her intentionally damage her eyesight through the use of harmful chemicals, which led to permanent vision loss.
Critics of transableism argue that it is a dangerous and unnecessary medical practice that seeks to normalize self-harm and goes against the fundamental principle of “do no harm” in medicine. They also point out that the argument for transableism is flawed because it is based on the assumption that subjective inner states should define reality rather than objective biological reality. The fact that transgenderism is currently backed by a powerful political and social movement does not mean that transableism should also be accepted and normalized.
However, some advocates of transableism argue that it is a natural extension of the idea of radical individual “re-creationism,” which Leon Kass coined. They claim that if society can accept transgenderism and support medical interventions for gender dysphoria, then it should also accept and support medical interventions for transableism. They argue that if the medical community is willing to help transgender individuals transition, then it should also be willing to help transable individuals “transition” by amputating their limbs or otherwise harming themselves in order to feel more comfortable in their own bodies.
While it remains to be seen whether transableism will gain wider acceptance and support in society, it is crucial for the medical community to approach this issue with caution and critical thinking, and to prioritize the well-being and safety of patients above all else.
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