Fixing Sex: Intersex, Medical Authority, And Lived Experience
Nominee, Margaret Mead Award 2010 | Finalist, Lambda Literary Award 2009
ABOUT THE BOOK
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.
Duke University Press, Fall 2008. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved. For any reuse of this material, contact Duke University Press.
REVIEWED IN …
New England Journal of Medicine, Medical Genetics, American Journal of Human Genetics, American Journal of Bioethics, International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, Choice, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Anthropological Forum, Journal of Health Psychology, Pediatric Endocrinology Reviews, GLQ, Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, Psychologytoday.com, Women’s Studies, Women’s Review of Books, Bitch, Feminist Review, Curve, Feministe, Intersex News, Organisation Intersex International, World Future Review, and Liminalis.