Beyond binary genders: reviewing the medical management of intersex infants

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Lee, Jenny ORCID: 0000-0002-5383-694X (2011) Beyond binary genders: reviewing the medical management of intersex infants. International Journal of the Humanities, 9 (12). 133 - 143. ISSN 1447-9508


The medical management of intersex births is based on a binary view of gender and an assumption of heterosexual identity, with little acknowledgment of the gender and queer theory that challenges the heteronormative gender binary. The term 'intersex' refers to conditions that involve anatomical, chromosomal and/or hormonal variance from what is expected in a male or female (Karkazis, 2008), therefore intersex births transgress the gender dichotomy established in the medical field. This paper focuses on analysing intersex medical treatment of infants who are born intersexed within a gender studies framework. Gender studies theorists and writers who transgress gender expectations in their own lives address binary definitions of male and female and the expectations of feminine and masculine behaviour in men and women in a manner that is rarely acknowledged by medical professionals who are treating intersex infants. It will be argued that the current intersex treatment guidelines are inadequate because they do not address the underlying gender normative assumptions made by the medical profession when surgically altering intersexed infants.

Item type Article
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1114 Paediatrics and Reproductive Medicine
Historical > FOR Classification > 2201 Applied Ethics
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Arts
Keywords intersex; medical ethics; transgender; intersex children; medical ethics; disorders of sexual development; gender; queer; sexuality; sex reassignment
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