The intimate labour of non-normative bodies
Transgender patients in early Swedish medical research
in Bodily interventions and intimate labour
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This chapter examines the paradoxical interplay of humanist and eugenic ideology underlying early Swedish psychiatric and medical studies on transgender persons. The chapter conceptualizes trans patients in psychiatric institutions in the 1960s as persons who exchange their intimate labour in return for receiving medical care and legal recognition from the state. Drawing on unpublished archival material and published references to patient case files, the chapter argues that the interplay between the trans patients’ own agency and the normalizing power of medical research generated the scientific expert knowledge that functioned as the basis for the world’s first legislation on the legal status of ‘transsexuals’ and the first state-enforced sterilization legislation of transgender persons in 1972. Drawing on Foucault, the chapter contends that in this context, normalizing power over the temporality of the subject operates both at the level of the body and the population. Yet, historical trans patients are not merely passive subjects of power/knowledge. Instead, the chapter emphasizes that the complex intimate labour of transgender patients can be regarded as a form of resistance and counter-power to normalizing biopower.

Bodily interventions and intimate labour

Understanding bioprecarity

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