Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 375–387 | Cite as

Not Sick: Liberal, Trans, and Crip Feminist Critiques of Medicalization

  • Cristina S. RichieEmail author
Original Research


Medicalization occurs when an aspect of embodied humanity is scrutinized by the medical industry, claimed as pathological, and subsumed under medical intervention. Numerous critiques of medicalization appear in academic literature, often put forth by bioethicists who use a variety of “lenses” to make their case. Feminist critiques of medicalization raise the concerns of the politically disenfranchised, thus seeking to protect women—particularly natal sex women—from medical exploitation. This article will focus on three feminist critiques of medicalization, which offer an alternative narrative of sickness and health. I will first briefly describe the philosophical origins of medicalization. Then, I will present three feminist critiques of medicalization. Liberal feminism, trans feminism, and crip feminism tend to regard Western medicine with a hermeneutics of suspicion and draw out potential harms of medicalization of reproductive sexuality, gender, and disability, respectively. While neither these branches of feminism—nor their critiques—are homogenous, they provide much-needed commentaries on phallocentric medicine. I will conclude the paper by arguing for the continual need for feminist critiques of medicalization, using uterus transplantation as a relevant case study.


Medicalization Bioethics Feminism Gay and lesbian studies Disability studies Crip theory Queer bioethics Reproductive ethics Transgender 



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Copyright information

© Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Bioethics and Interdisciplinary Studies, Brody School of MedicineEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA

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