lessons from the intersexed

lessons from the intersexed - A discourse around issues of...

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A discourse around issues of the intersexed with reference to Suzanne Kessler's Lessons from the intersexed Stephen Kerry Gender scholar Suzanne Kessler has, in Lessons from the intersexed, provided a timely and important discourse around the issues of the intersexed. Within Lessons from the intersexed Kessler challenges the strategies of the medical profession in their ‘diagnosis’ and ‘treatment’ of intersexed conditions. Kessler’s analytic engagement locates two main concerns with the medical profession’s diagnosis and treatment of contemporary intersexed conditions. Firstly the criteria that determines diagnosis and treatment decisions, such as surgery, surgery that the Intersexed Movement has called ‘Intersex Genital Mutilation’. The second main concern relate to the ‘lies’ the medical profession perpetuate around intersexed conditions, especially in regards to the mis-disclosure to parents of intersexed children, and to intersexed children, adolescents and adults themselves. From this mapping of the pitfalls of the medical professions’ diagnosis and treatment, we understand why the Intersexed Movement is calling for alternative gender identities and alternative diagnoses and treatments. The intersexed have begun to articulate and activate in an attempt to cease the mutilation of infants with so-called ‘ambiguous genitalia’ as a direct reaction to the lies that they have been told and the genital mutilation they have undergone. Although Kessler’s work is pragmatic, it does not fail to offer the ‘gender scholar’ a theoretical perspective. Kessler offers up this theoretical perspective as relevant to scholars and students of feminist theory and to the Intersex Movement as a window to the conceptualisations of gender as a social construct, and consequently we witness that ‘intersexuality’ too is socially constructed. This article look at the arguments from Lessons from the intersexed to highlight some key areas that warrant consideration in the present situation of intersexuals (whether they have uncovered their intersex history or not) and allow the reader to learn (for now and the future) some lessons from the intersexed. The article is divided into five sections: the first looks at the frequency and the range of conditions covered by the term ‘intersex’ and the corresponding diverse terminology in the medical and intersex literature; the second, offers up an investigation of the criteria used in diagnosis and treatment of intersexed conditions by the medical profession; the third looks at the lies that accompany the diagnosis and treatment of intersexed conditions; the fourth, how intersexed people are fighting back with an Intersex Movement, offering new gender identities, and alternative treatments and diagnosis; and finally how Lessons from the intersexed witnesses a theoretical application to the existence of intersexed conditions which point to future directions for gender and queer theories. Frequency and terminology
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lessons from the intersexed - A discourse around issues of...

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