Dissertation on philosophy of gender and sexual variance to expand understanding of good life and the human condition (Defense: VTM, FM Tiia Sudenkaarne, August 28th2021, philosophy)

Master of Social Sciences, Master of Arts Tiia Sudenkaarne introduces queer bioethics into Finnish academia. Her dissertation analyses how LGBTQI+ questions often considered marginal are philosophically robust and socio-politically important.

In her article dissertation for University of Turku philosophy, Sudenkaarne focuses on gender and sexual variance in bioethics. Bioethics can be defined as a field of philosophy that interrogates ethical, societal, and political questions emerging from the development of medicine and biosciences.

Gender and sexual variance refers to the cornucopia of experiences, identities, expressions, and desires that vastly exceeds binary (male-female) understanding of ’opposite’ genders, and the assumption that such opposites by default attract each other. Building from feminist and queer thought, Sudenkaarne constructs this as cis- and heteronormativity that constructs false assumptions of good life and the human condition.

Sudenkaarne discusses how a queer feminist framework for classic bioethical concepts such as vulnerability and justice, enrich bioethical theory, methodology and practice. Normality does often in fact refer to cis- and heteronormativity:

– For example, a functional body of an intersex person is often infringed on in infancy without medical necessity, based on the assumption that cis- and heteronormativity is a necessary condition for good life. This justifies normalization that is in fact a way to control the unruly body and protect the gender binary system, Sudenkaarne explains.

– Alternatively, gender and sexual variance could be perceived as neutral diversity or through consensual transition treatments, as enhanced human flourishing.

Gender and Sexual Variance Can Trigger Vulnerabilities

By looking at surrogacy practices and gender variance diagnostics, Sudenkaarne also demonstrates how gender and sexual variance relate to specific vulnerabilities. She discusses the layers of interrogatory intimacy, troubled kinship, agency, and ethical sustainability. Her layers of queer vulnerabilities are an original contribution to the well-established theory and practice of vulnerability research.

To Sudenkaarne, it bears repeating that gender and sexual variance always connects to reproductive rights as they are the societal tool for constructing normativity of wanted reproduction.

– An integral example persists in Finland: the demand for proof of infertility, also known as the sterilization clause, for trans people to access transition treatment stems from eugenic ethos that historically defined unwanted and wanted citizens. It is crucial to subvert this ethos.  These questions are current once again as The Finnish parliament prepares to discuss a citizen’s initiative demanding for radical change on these matters, Sudenkaarne notes.

Another crucial topic for her is the critical analysis of structural racism and research combining racializing processes to gender and sexual variance, an area still understudied in Finnish context.  

– A social scientist, I see this connecting to the critical analyses of welfare state ethos. By focusing on those considered marginalized and by stirring ethical murky waters, philosophy and ethics can reinterpret and reinvigorate the virtues of justice and solidarity, she ponders.


VTM, FM Tiia Sudenkaarne publicly defends her dissertation ”Queering Bioethics: A Queer Feminist Framework for Vulnerability and Principles” August 28th 2021 4 PM (UTC+3) at University of Turku. Remote access available via this link https://utu.zoom.us/j/61857174329.

Her opponent is professor Jamie Nelson (Michigan State University, the United States of America). The defense is chaired by university lecturer Helena Siipi (University of Turku, Finland). The proceedings will be partly in Finnish and partly in English. Field of the dissertation is philosophy.

University of Turku actively monitors the pandemic and follows official guidelines issued by officials, updating its practice accordingly. For general instructions and policies of University of Turku, https://www.utu.fi/en/information-on-coronavirus

Contact information:

email tiijun@utu.fi

phone +358 50 3182530

>> Picture for media purposes
>> Queering bioethics: a queer feminist framework for vulnerability and principles

Created 20.08.2021 | Updated 27.08.2021