19th Century Sexual desires determined by reproductive organs Intersex newborns usually raised as males Worry about intersex individuals ending up where they didn’t belong (e.g. men in convents, women in barracks) Intersex marriage immoral, since it can’t produce children In some cases, the couple was allowed to remain together if it was a happy union. (Dreger, 1997)
British School of Thought on Intersex Allowed intersex individuals more autonomy and allowed to keep their affairs private ‘Unsexing’ or ‘desexing’ common Usually removing testes in someone who was of the female gender (Dreger, 1997)
French School of Thought on Intersex After the outrage of HerculineBarbin, public announcement of an intersex individual was common in the media as it gathered a lot of interest. Interest in the idea of ‘inverts’ to explain homosexuality, or when sexual desires did not match genitals. (Dreger, 1997)
Ideas of Ulrichs and Mayne Propose the need for a Third Sex Suggest a gradation of sexual anatomy Much of nature is gradual, such as skin color and evolution in general Unintended consequence of making intersex people seem like degenerate version of those with normal sexual anatomy. (Dreger, 1997)
Implications for the Future A simple natural law searched for to explain link between genitalia and sexual desire. Same link searched for now between genes and homosexual behavior. Try to find biological explanation, not looking at what an individual likes or wants. (Dreger, 1997)
With ‘normal-looking’ genitals, the corresponding gender will follow
Many decisions made via aesthetics, not chromosomal or hormonal tests
Most infants assigned to ‘female’ due to inadequate penis.
Searching for the Sex Doctors continue the notion that the child has a ‘true sex’ it just has to be found under the ambiguous genitalia. Idea that real gender will be found, the ambiguous, “bad” genitals will be fixed Pressure from parents on doctors What to tell relatives Genitals reconstructed, not constructed, gender reannounced, not reassigned (Kessler, 1990)
Parents with normal children are not told this
Counseling later in life involves re-affirming the existing gender, not seeing what the patient wants
Many adult intersex individuals who were assigned the ‘wrong’ sex feel strongly that the individual should make the choice, not the doctors.
Bibliography Dreger, Alice. “Hermaphrodites in Love: The Truth of the Gonads.” Science and Homosexualities. Ed. Vernon A. Rosario. New York: Routledge, 1997. 46-66. Print. Kessler, Suzanne K. 1990. The Medical Construction of Gender: Case Management of Intersexed Infants. Signs 16(1):3-26.