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Publisher Description

For a decade now, the two of us have taken a critical stance toward the medical treatment of children with intersex conditions. While clinicians have been overwhelmingly focused on how to turn children with intersex conditions into "normal" boys and girls, we have asked why bodies that violate gender rules require treatment at all, and we argued that it was the cultural need for a coherent gender--a single and true sex, if you will--that drove what was often unethical treatment of these children and adolescents. Intersex, as we understood it, was largely a problem of meaning rather than of medicine: the gender-atypical features associated with intersex conditions have been misconstrued as requiring intervention. So in 2006, when the U.S. and European endocrinological societies published a consensus statement announcing a significant change in nomenclature for those born with atypical sex anatomy, whereby variations on the term "hermaphrodite" and "intersex" would be replaced by the term "Disorders of Sex Development," or DSD, we were faced with the question of the meaning of this new terminology and how to understand its implications for the treatment of intersex conditions. (1) Controversy erupted almost immediately over the new nomenclature. The arguments for and against the shift echoed our own internal grappling with this terminology: did it reinforce the tendency to view gender-atypical bodies as pathological, or could it mark an important advance in the treatment of the underlying conditions so frequently associated with gender-atypical bodies? To what extent should we support and make use of the term in our ongoing critical work? One of us initially eschewed it, feeling it left intersex conditions fully medicalized. (2) But our experience with parents and doctors also led us to acknowledge the limitations of the current labels, whose mere utterance could be fighting words. Struggling with the host of competing stakes, we finally found ourselves in a curious and at times uncomfortable position: critics of medicalization arguing in favor of its benefits.

GENRE
Science & Nature
RELEASED
2008
September 1
LANGUAGE
EN
English
LENGTH
11
Pages
PUBLISHER
Hastings Center
SIZE
164.7
KB

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