The gendered technostate: transnational health flows, local inequalities
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This dissertation analyzes how medical tourism in Thailand impacts and involves kathoey, a Thai third gender group. As the Thai state launched in 2016 an economic plan centered on technological growth and medical tourism, kathoey entertainers – many who have undergone gender-affirming surgeries – are being used as a symbol of medical technologies to attract foreign currency and potential medical tourists. Their work in the entertainment industry also contributes to national rebranding efforts by shifting Thailand’s historical reputation as a sex tourist hub to one of medical expertise and professionalized labor. Through the concept of the gendered technostate, I show how states, gendered labor, and technologies are co-constructed via technologically-enhanced gendered labor, that is both produced by and contributing to state agendas. Within the context of state-led efforts to advance technological growth and medical tourism, I illustrate how local people co-construct a global medical market, affording the nation new levels of prestige. The dissertation analyzes local health effects of medical tourism, developing the sociology of trans-national health, a framework which accounts for the political and economic aspects of health and health care across borders of sex, gender, and nation. The project elucidates the cultural economy of medical tourism and the local gendered relations that undergird transnational health practices. It demonstrates how transgender people are incorporated into the state as professionalized citizens, thereby illuminating the role of the state in producing and legitimizing bodies to become particular configurations of sex, gender, and labor.
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