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Elizabeth Reis

Lecturer, Bioethics; Professor, Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York

Elizabeth Reis is a professor at the Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York where she teaches courses on Medical Ethics, Reproductive Technologies, The Politics of Women’s Health, and Transgender Issues. Before that she was Professor and Department Head of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Oregon. She graduated from Smith College and received her Ph.D. in History at the University of California, Berkeley. Reis is the author of Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex; Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England; and the editor of American Sexual Histories.

She is interested in both the history and contemporary analysis of medical ethics, gender, sexuality, and religion and has published essays in the Hastings Center Report, Bioethics Forum, Journal of American History, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, and the New York Times. Reis is a member of the Ethics Committee at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Hospital and an editor of, a collaborative blog project that focuses on the intersection of gender, history, and medicine.


Select Articles:

“The Irrelevance of Data to Infant Intersex Surgery” (with Samuel Reis-Dennis), Journal of Pediatric Ethics (Spring 2021).

“Medicalization and the Mainstreaming of Circumcision in mid-20th Century America,”
American Jewish History 105;3 (July 2021), 321-342.

“The Need for a Unified Ethical Stance on Child Genital Cutting” (with Brian D. Earp (first author), Arianne Shahvisi, and Samuel Reis-Dennis), Nursing Ethics (March 2021).

“Midwives and Pregnant Transgender Men: Laboring Toward Ethical Care,” Canadian Medical Association Journal (February 2020)

“Did Bioethics Matter? A History of Autonomy, Consent, and Intersex Surgery,” Medical Law Review 27:4 (Autumn, 2019), 658-674.

“Freezing Eggs and Creating Patients: Moral Risks of Commercialized Fertility,” co-authored with Samuel Reis-Dennis, Just Reproduction: Reimagining Autonomy in Reproductive Medicine, special report, Hastings Center Report 47, no. 6 (2017), 541-545.

“Are Physicians Blameworthy for Iatrogenic Harm Resulting from Unnecessary Genital Surgeries?” (with Samuel Reis-Dennis), AMA Journal of Ethics 19:9  (August 2017), 825-833.

“What Hospitalists Should Know About Intersex Adults,” (with Matt McCarthy, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine (Summer, 2016).

“Transgender Patients, Hospitalists, and Ethical Care,” (with Matt McCarthy and Joseph Fins, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine (Spring, 2016).

Recent Commentaries:

“Bodies in Doubt: A New and Expanded Edition, An Interview with Georgiann Davis,” Nursing Clio (October 26, 2021)

“Intersex People in the Past and Present,” Ms. Magazine (July 15, 2021)

“Teaching Medical Ethics During the Pandemic,” The Hastings Center (May 6, 2020)

“Pronoun Privilege,” The New York Times (September 25, 2016).

“New York City’s Compromise on Dangerous Circumcision Practice Leaves Infants at Risk,” Bioethics Forum (March 5, 2015)

“Hoping for a Good Death,” The New York Times (December 2, 2014), D6.