The entanglement of sexed bodies and pharmaceuticals: A feminist analysis of early onset puberty and puberty-blocking medications
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International epidemiological evidence demonstrates that more children than ever before now enter puberty before the age of 8. Early onset puberty can be an alarming experience for parents and is thought to entail short- and long-term physical and psychosocial risks, particularly for girls. ‘Puberty blocking’ hormonal medications are sometimes used to halt the progress of puberty in order to avoid these dangers. This article analyses medical and pharmaceutical discourses describing these medications, exploring how they articulate sex/gender, sexuality, age and health. Engaging with sociological literatures on pharmaceuticalisation and queer and feminist work on atypical sexual development and trans, I argue that prescribing puberty blockers should not be seen as a straightforward ‘solution’ to early sexual development. Learning from Elizabeth A. Wilson’s (2011) engagement with Karen Barad’s reconceptualising of bodies, I suggest how we might take account of the psychological and physical worldliness of early developing children when evaluating puberty blockers.
Keywordspuberty girls pharmaceuticals puberty blockers sex hormones sexual development
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