Study Guide

Dr. Luce in Middlesex

By Jeffrey Eugenides

Dr. Luce

Luce Morals

Dr. Luce is the head of the Sexual Disorders and Gender Identity Clinic at New York Hospital. His office is filled with sexually charged art, and his bookshelves buckle under the weight of colorfully titled books such as Hap-Penis: Surgical Techniques in Female-to-Male Sex Reassignment. We assume he's pretty handy with a scalpel too.

Although Luce is ahead of his time (can you imagine what Cal's life would have been like had he been born even a decade earlier?) he still makes the critical mistake of deciding to perform gender reassignment surgery on Cal without discussing it with him first. Granted, Cal also lied more than Lance Armstrong during his therapy sessions: "I had lied to him about many things. His decision was based on false data. But he had been false in turn" (4.2.100). Did Cal give Dr. Luce the impression that he really wanted to be a girl? Who is at fault here? Anyone?

One thing we can agree on is that Luce treats Cal as a "living experiment" (4.1.64), which sounds like sketchy medical practice to us. However, he also treats Cal with a bit of respect in a way. When he examines Cal's genitals, "he didn't look shocked or appalled. In fact he examined [Cal] with great curiosity, almost connoisseurship" (4.1.79). At least Luce doesn't make Cal feel like a freak.