Intersex in the Age of Ethics (ed Alice Dreger)

Classification: Books

Intersex in the Age of Ethics

Intersex in the Age of Ethics marks the first time an entire volume has been dedicated to the exploration of the ethics of intersex treatment. It could not be more timely; professional conferences, gender clinics, and the popular media are abuzz with the controversy over how medicine and society should handle intersex and intersexuals. The volume will provide some much-needed perspective. The writings approach the issue of intersexuality and its treatment from numerous perspectives, including the personal, ethical, clinical, legal, anthropological, historical, sociological, and philosophical.

Lessons from the Intersexed (Suzanne Kessler)

Classification: Books

Lessons from the Intersexed
Fascinating in what it tells us not only about situations in which sex assignment is uncertain but about the astonishingly weak empirical foundations on which the medical orthodoxies of binary sex and gender are built. A must for anyone interested in the ways widely accepted social beliefs and scientific explanations generate and reinforce each other.

Looking Queer (ed Dawn Atkins)

Classification: Books

Looking Queer

This anthology collects essays about body image in lgbt communities. Part 7, "Square Pegs," presents writing by intersexed authors Morgan Holmes,  Raven Kaldera, and Cheryl Chase.


Classification: Books

Middlesex cover art

This Pulitzer Prize winning novel explores the family history and life of a female-reared protagonist who has an intersex condition doctors call 5-alpha reductase deficiency. Born with an XY karotype and sex anatomy that didn’t raise suspicion in doctors or family at the time, the protagonist is named Calliope and raised as a girl into her teen years, until an accident with a tractor leads to an emergency room trip where Calliope and her parents first hear that she has an intersex condition. After being sent to the “Sexual Disorders and Gender Identity Clinic,” Calliope is subjected to innumerable physical exams and psychological tests while she and her parents are told very little about her condition. When her medical file is accidentally left open on her doctor’s desk, Calliope, for the first time, reads about her diagnosis, her XY karotype, and her doctor’s conclusion that she is a girl. After leaving a note for her parents explaining that she is a boy, Calliope changes her name to Cal and begins living as a male.

Pediatric Gender Assignment: A Critical Reappraisal

Classification: Books

In 1999, the National Institutes of Health invited urologists to meet to discuss the controversy over early surgeries on children born with intersex conditions. This proceedings volume contains 19 contributions from clinicians and researchers. No intersex people were invited. The editors are with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The conference focused largely on gender identity as the outcome of interest, and thus failed to address most of the criticisms that had been brought against the traditional model of management.

Zderic, Stephen A., Douglas A. Canning, Michael C. Carr, and Howard McC. Snyder, eds. 2002. Pediatric Gender Assignment: A Critical Reappraisal. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum.

Sexing the Body (Anne Fausto-Sterling)

Classification: Books | History

Sexing the Body
Drawing on astonishing real-life cases and a probing analysis of centuries of scientific research, Fausto-Sterling demonstrates how scientists have historically politicized the body.

Surgically Shaping Children

Classification: Books
cover of Surgically Shaping Children

At a time when medical technologies make it ever easier to enhance our minds and bodies, a debate has arisen about whether such efforts promote a process of “normalization,” which makes it ever harder to tolerate the natural anatomical differences among us. The debate becomes especially complicated when it addresses the surgical alteration, or “shaping,” of children. This volume explores the ethical and social issues raised by the recent proliferation of surgeries designed to make children born with physical differences look more normal.

Using three cases—surgeries to eliminate craniofacial abnormalities such as cleft lip and palate, surgeries to correct ambiguous genitalia, and surgeries to lengthen the limbs of children born with dwarfism—the contributors consider the tensions parents experience when making such life-altering decisions on behalf of or with their children.

The essays in this volume offer in-depth examinations of the significance and limits of surgical alteration through personal narratives, theoretical reflections, and concrete suggestions about how to improve the decision-making process. Written from the perspectives of affected children and their parents, health care providers, and leading scholars in philosophy, sociology, history, law, and medicine, this collection provides an integrated and comprehensive foundation from which to consider a complex and controversial issue. It takes the reader on a journey from reflections on the particulars of current medical practices to reflections on one of the deepest and most complex of human desires: the desire for normality.


Priscilla Alderson, Adrienne Asch, Cassandra Aspinall, Alice Domurat Dreger, James C. Edwards, Todd C. Edwards, Ellen K. Feder, Arthur W. Frank, Lisa Abelow Hedley, Eva Fedder Kittay, Hilde Lindemann, Jeffery L. Marsh, Paul Steven Miller, Sherri Groveman Morris, Wendy E. Mouradian, Donald L. Patrick, Nichola Rumsey, Emily Sullivan Sanford, Tari D. Topolski

The Zuni Man-Woman (Will Roscoe)

Classification: Books
cover of The Zuni Man-Woman

This book, winner of the 1991 Margaret Mead Award in anthropology, focuses on the life of We’wha, perhaps the most famous berdache (a person who combined the work and traits of both men and women) in American history. Through We’wha’s exceptional life, historian Will Roscoe creates a vivid picture of an alternative gender role whose history has been hiddent and almost forgotten.

Third Sex, Third Gender (ed Gilbert Herdt)

Classification: Books

Third Sex, Third Gender
These eleven essays in history and anthropology offer a novel perspective by questioning the place of sexual dimorphism in culture and history.

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