Risky Teaching: Call Me Spartacus

Sure, we should protect students from genuinely hostile environments. But "protect" them from challenging class exercises? We can't really hope to protect the vulnerable by giving them all the power.

Judging Souls Versus Acts in Bioethics

Who gives a damn whether a medical researcher is nice inside? Who cares if he loves science, patients, and babies? We ought to care about whether he shills for a corrupt industry, whether he accurately presents evidence in a case, whether he obtains informed consent. This is what patients and subjects would reasonably care about.

Why We Tri

Each year, the last Sunday in August, thousands of everyday athletes participate in triathlons. We are two of them.

The Worst of All Possible IRB Worlds

The Institutional Review Board system treats social scientists unfairly at the front end, and at the back end fails to provide justice when harm comes to people used as medical research subjects. These problems represent two sides of a coin. Here's a suggestion of something small and easy you can do to help.

A Monocular Life, in Perspective

After years of teaching about why impairments aren't necessarily disabilities, I find myself with a first-person example: my "stereoblind" vision.

Teaching Sex Diversity in Prison

An extraordinary educator relates the story of teaching my TEDx lecture, "Is Anatomy Destiny?", to a group of men in a Washington state minimum security prison.

On Losing a Friend (Who Happened to Be Trans)

Today, November 20, is Transgender Day of Remembrance. Here I remember my good friend Kiira Triea.

The Dex Diaries, Part 10: Taking It Personally

In what (I think) will be the last "Dex Diary," I take up the question of why some people act, while others sit it out, and talk about the growing movement within academia to engage with socially important issues.

The Dex Diaries, Part 9: The Real Silent Majority

In this entry of the Dex Diaries, Anne Tamar-Mattis, JD, talks about the "silent majority" from whom she often hears in her advocacy work: clinicians troubled by the way medical systems treat children with disorders of sex development. She also talks about how the silence started to lift around prenatal dexamethasone for CAH once we all started to speak out as one.

The Dex Diaries, Part 8: DES Lessons Not Learned

This entry of The Dex Diaries features the perspective of Fran Howell, a woman who was exposed to DES in the womb and who now acts as Executive Director of DES Action USA. Howell raises the question: When will we learn the hard lessons of prenatal DES exposure? (And implicitly asks: Why does it take activists to stop these train wrecks? Why can't the FDA be more proactive?

The Dex Diaries, Part 7: How to Be a Bioethicist

The prenatal dexamethasone ordeal has accidentally taught me the rules of being a successful bioethicist, so—even though I personally suck at this game—I thought I’d share the secrets of winning.

The Dex Diaries Part 6: The AJOB Cluster

In this Dex Diary, the story of how the American Journal of Bioethics almost drove me off a cliff.

The Dex Diaries, Part 5: Questions I Didn't Ask

In this installment of the Dex Diaries, Ellen Feder, the corresponding author of our letters of concern, talks about her own experiences accepting prenatal steroids for her babies. In doing so, she works to answers the question: What were the mothers thinking?

The Dex Diaries, Part 4: A Perpetual Motion Machine of NIH Funding?

Pregnant patients and their obstetricians are told an off-label use is "safe and effective" by a researcher who then turns around and tells the NIH she needs funding to see if it is safe and effective. Your tax dollars at work.

The Dex Diaries, Part 3: What the Obstetricians Didn't Know

This third installment of "The Dex Diaries" explores how the obstetricians prescribing the fetal-engineering intervention appear to have been hung out to dry. Morally, I don't see how they are culpable. But legally? Ugh.

The Dex Diaries, Part 2: Why We Called the Feds

In this second installment of the Dex Diaries, I explain why a group of 32 scholars in bioethics and allied fields called on the federal government to investigate the off-label use of a drug intended to radically alter fetal sex development.

The Dex Diaries, Part 1: Changed in the Womb

In Part 1 of "The Dex Diaries," one woman's story of what it was like to have her life course forever changed by a medically-sanctioned prenatal drug exposure.

Liars, Cheats, and Writers: The Case of Jonah Lehrer

What might have stopped Jonah Lehrer from publishing made-up quotes? And does it really matter if he put a few words in Dylan's mouth?

Falling in Love with Calvin Trillin's Wife

Some people find their romantic psyches shaped by a dramatic novel or film. Mine was shaped by a humorous book about food. Let's eat.

How to Ex an "Ex-Gay" Study

The internet is abuzz with the claim that the editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior is refusing to retract an article purporting to evidence the success of "ex-gay" therapy, even though the article's author wants it retracted. Read the real story here.

Taking the Monsters Out of the Card Catalog

The subject headings in library catalogs -- such as those that have labeled some babies "monsters" -- are created by real people. And so it takes real people to fix them. Here's the story of one fixer.

Get Your Doctor to Treat You Right

You might think "more is better" in medical care. But not so! A recent humorous "Ten Commandments" in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) reminded physicians about what should really matter in medical care. Here, I provide an English-language translation of those Ten Commandments.

Australia's Passport to Gender Confusion

What are the problems with the new Australian passport system for genders? In a nutshell: (1) confusion of sex and gender; (2) pretending intersex is a simple natural category; (3) imagining that transgender people never have anything but one of two simple genders; (4) letting doctors be the arbiters of social identity; and (5) uh, did they really have to pick "X"?

Where Lesbians Are Legal

A meditation on why my friend and her wife are not yet telling their young children that they've gotten married.

Thinking More Clearly About Obesity (And Stigma)

I asked a colleague what's wrong with this question: "Is obesity a handicap or a lifestyle choice?" And why calling obesity a disease is a problem.

Dr. Oz Can't Afford Me

The producer calling me from "The Dr. Oz Show" seemed incredulous. "Your too tired to be on Dr. Oz? But you were on Oprah!" But it wasn't just that I was physically tired from doing too much media that week.

Beware of "Safe and Effective" Claims, Especially When You're Pregnant

A doctor promotes an off-label drug to pregnant women as "safe for mother and child," while telling her colleagues it is, in fact, experimental. The FDA can't seem to do anything about it. The doctor's medical school won't seem to do anything about it. Won't somebody please think of the children?

A Primary Care Doc Walks into a Bar

You know something's really wrong when primary care doctors are starting to sound like bartenders.

Wanting Privacy versus Being Ashamed

Are the people who felt uncomfortable hearing about a sex act in a university classroom really "sex negative"? Or are they just human?

Hot Times at Northwestern

Sometmes a sex toy demonstration in class doesn't leave you with the lesson you set out to teach.