What happens when a baby is born with “ambiguous” genitalia or a combination of “male” and “female” body parts? Clinicians and parents in these situations are confronted with complicated questions such as whether a girl can have XY chromosomes, or whether some penises are “too small” for a male sex assignment. Since the 1950s, standard treatment has involved determining a sex for these infants and performing surgery to normalize the infant’s genitalia. Over the past decade intersex advocates have mounted unprecedented challenges to treatment, offering alternative perspectives about the meaning and appropriate medical response to intersexuality and driving the field of those who treat intersex conditions into a deep crisis. Katrina Karkazis offers a nuanced, compassionate picture of these charged issues in Fixing Sex, the first book to examine contemporary controversies over the medical management of intersexuality in the United States from the multiple perspectives of those most intimately involved.
Drawing extensively on interviews with adults with intersex conditions, parents, and physicians, Karkazis moves beyond the heated rhetoric to reveal the complex reality of how intersexuality is understood, treated, and experienced today. As she unravels the historical, technological, social, and political forces that have culminated in debates surrounding intersexuality, Karkazis exposes the contentious disagreements among theorists, physicians, intersex adults, activists, and parents—and all that those debates imply about gender and the changing landscape of intersex management. She argues that by viewing intersexuality exclusively through a narrow medical lens we avoid much more difficult questions. Do gender atypical bodies require treatment? Should physicians intervene to control the “sex” of the body? As this illuminating book reveals, debates over treatment for intersexuality force reassessment of the seemingly natural connections between gender, biology, and the body.
Approximately one in every two thousand infants born in America each year is sexually ambiguous in such a way that doctors cannot immediately determine the child’s sex. Some children’s chromosomal sexuality contradicts their sexual characteristics. Others have the physical traits of both sexes, or of neither. Is surgical intervention or sex assignment of intersexed children necessary for their physical and psychological health, as the medical and mental health communities largely assume? Should parents raise sexually ambiguous children as one gender or another and keep them ignorant of their medical history?
Drawing upon life history interviews with adults who were treated for intersexuality as children, Sharon E. Preves explores how such individuals experience and cope with being labeled sexual deviants in a society that demands sexual conformity. Preves frames their stories within a sociological discussion of gender, the history of intersex medicalization, the recent political mobilization of intersexed adults, and the implications of their activism on identity negotiation, medical practice, and cultural norms. By demonstrating how intersexed people manage and create their own identities, often in conflict with their medical diagnosis, Preves argues that medical intervention into intersexuality often creates, rather than mitigates, the stigma these people suffer.
A call for “trans literacy” within biblical scholarship
In this volume Hornsby and Guest introduce readers to terms for the various identities of trans people and how the Bible can be an affirmation of those deemed sexually other by communities. This book offers readings of well known (e.g., Gen 1; Revelation) and not so well known (2 Sam 6; Jer 38) narratives to illustrate that the Bible has been translated and interpreted with a bias that makes heterosexuality and a two sex, two gender system natural, and thus divinely ordained. The authors present examples that show gender was never a binary, and in the Bible gender and sex are always dynamic categories that do, and must, transition.
Definitions of key terms, including transsexual, transgender, cissexism, heterosexism, intersex, eunuch
Critique of how biblical texts are used in Christian positional statements on transsexuality
Statistics concerning rates of violence against trans persons