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Photo of Dr Kate Goldie Townsend

Dr Kate Goldie Townsend

Associate Lecturer

*CFP* Special Collection on Bodily Integrity and Bodily Autonomy in Pediatric Populations for Global Pediatric Health

Anticipated themes: 

·       The right to bodily integrity and/or bodily autonomy in pediatric populations (Does it exist? What does it consist of? When is it violated?)

·       Analysis of the concept and ethics of medical consent for mature minors

·       Bodily integrity, bodily autonomy, and pediatric disability

·       Medical and non-medical conceptions of childhood 

·       Ethics of cultural or religious body modifications in minors 

·       Ethics of "cosmetic" procedures for children (including ear-piercing)

·       Ethics of gender-related body modifications in minors 

·       Ethics of intersex genital surgeries and debates about medical necessity

·       Ethics of cochlear implants for deaf children 

·       Ethics of birth control and abortion access for minors

Submission deadline: 30/04/2023.


I am an Associate Lecturer for Politics and SSIS. I teach on modules across Politics, mainly in Political Theory.

I have a PhD in Political Philosophy, examined by Professor Clare Chambers (Cambridge) and Professor Catriona McKinnon (Exeter), awarded in 2021. I have published in Philosophy and Social Criticism and Nature's International Journal of Impotence Research: Your Sexual Medicine Journal. My doctoral dissertation defended the idea that all children have a right to genital integrity, whatever their cultural background, sex trait category, or age. I examined moral and legal inconsistency in the real-world treatment of child genital cutting practices and argued that all children have an interest in having their external conditions for exercising and developing sexual autonomy protected:

I have two young children who help to keep me grounded, resilient, and determined, they also make sure I go to the beach at least once a week. 

Research group links

Research interests

Political Theory, Applied Political Theory, Feminism, Children's Rights, Autonomy, Phenomenology, Motherhood, the relationship between peri-natal people's bodies and the promotion of children's interests

External impact and engagement

Parental decision-making and the role of the medical ‘expert', panel on Assigning Sex and Affirming Gender: Reflections on the Role of Parents in Decision-Making. Invited paper for The Manchester Bioethics and Health Law Conference 2023: Current Issues and Future Possibilities. 11 January 2023, Manchester. 

Bioethical perspectives on surgical decision making. Presentation for The Royal Society of Medicine, Sexuality and Sexual Health Section: Differences in sex development: Surgical care and controversy webinar, 30 September 2022, online. 

Autonomy, genital cutting, and liberal policy inconsistency: the case of intersex genital modification. Paper at Conditions of Autonomy – Legal, Political and Philosophical Perspectives workshop, organised by the Centre for Political Thought, the School of Law and the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health (University of Exeter). With the support of SSIS ADR funding, 20th May 2022, Exeter.

Breastfeeding, Bodily Autonomy, and Unicef's "call to action". Paper at Contentious Science, Tricky Politics; Experts and Scientists in Controversial Policy Debates in Europe and Northern America conference, 20-22 October 2021, Bordeaux.  

Culture and child genital cutting. Paper at MANCEPT workshop: "My culture made me do it", Freedom and Choice in Current Multicultural Democracies, 7-9 September 2021.

The Politics and Ethics of Autonomy. Panel organiser and chair for Britain and Ireland Association for Political Thought conference, January 2021.

Are children's right bad for women? Paper at Britain and Ireland Association for Political Thought conference, January 2020, St Catherine's College Oxford.

Intersexuality and the child's right to genital integrity. Paper at the European Conference for Politics and Gender, July 2019, Amsterdam.

Are children's rights bad for mothers? Paper at 5th Annual Conference for Global Ethics: Bodies and Embodiment, May 2019, Birmingham. 

Children's rights and genital cutting. Paper at Association for Political Philosophy annual conference, June 2017, Sheffield.

Gender, culture, and cultural supremacism. Paper at SWDTC Workshop on Anne Phillips, Political Theory and Gender, May 2016, Bristol.

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