Purpose – Intersexuality is examined from a sociology of diagnosis frame to show how the diagnostic process is connected to other social constructions, offer new support…
Purpose – Intersexuality is examined from a sociology of diagnosis frame to show how the diagnostic process is connected to other social constructions, offer new support that medical professionals define illness in ways that sometimes carries negative consequences, and illustrate how the medical profession holds on to authority in the face of patient activism.
Methodology/approach – Data collection occurred over a two-year period (October 2008 to August 2010). Sixty-two in-depth interviews were conducted with individuals connected to the intersex community including adults with intersexuality, parents, medical professionals, and intersex activists.
Findings – Medical professionals rely on essentialist understandings of gender to justify the medicalization of intersexuality, which they currently are doing through a nomenclature shift away from intersex terminology in favor of disorders of sex development (DSD) language. This shift allows medical professionals to reassert their authority and reclaim jurisdiction over intersexuality in light of intersex activism that was successfully framing intersexuality as a social rather than biological problem.
Practical implications – This chapter encourages critical thought and action from activists and medical professionals about shifts in intersex medical management.
Social implications – Intersexuality might be experienced in less stigmatizing ways by those personally impacted.
Originality/value – The value of this research is that it connects the sociology of diagnosis literature with gender scholarship. Additional value comes from the data, which were collected after the 2006 nomenclature shift.
My discussion of intersexuality's changing exemplificatory position within feminist studies of science explains how its medical management has emerged as an exemplary…
My discussion of intersexuality's changing exemplificatory position within feminist studies of science explains how its medical management has emerged as an exemplary injustice of recognition. Specifically, the surgical protocol that aims to make unusual genitalia invisible, and the medical obfuscation of intersexuality's ramifications for the cultural construction of gender, have been written as a wrong by Anne Fausto-Sterling and Suzanne Kessler. By mapping intersex treatment as a discursively produced injustice, I argue that it is accordingly within discourse that the wrongs of intersex treatment may be redressed – not by undoing past surgeries, or by punishing clinicians as personally “guilty.”
Purpose – This chapter sketches the major historical shifts in American circumcision discourse and examines the sociopolitics of those shifts.Methodology/approach – The…
Purpose – This chapter sketches the major historical shifts in American circumcision discourse and examines the sociopolitics of those shifts.
Methodology/approach – The chapter centers on a critical analysis of competing narratives and knowledge claims about circumcision. It re-examines these narratives and claims, most of which are packaged in a rhetoric of health, specifically for their political valence.
Findings – The medical necessity of circumcision in the United States cannot be ascertained without attending to the disciplinary systems designed to produce and maintain religious, sexual and other cultural norms.
Contribution to the field – The chapter provides a clear and focused synthesis of many different literatures and contentions about circumcision that have yet to be brought together into a single narrative accessible for students and scholars of the medical humanities and medical politics.
Hate crime law in Scotland is distinct. The law was extended to cover religious hate crime in 2003, and has been extended to cover disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity by the Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009 (Scottish Parliament, 2009a). The coverage of transgender identity in relation to the law is unique in Europe. The legislation was developed through a consultative process that led to consensus on the exclusion of similar provisions for age and gender crime. Scotland has not extended the offence of stirring up racial hatred to other forms of hatred. Hate crime prosecution rates are significantly higher in Scotland, and much higher for religious crime, in comparison with England and Wales.
Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, one of the many techniques used by physicians and psychiatrists to diagnose patients involved external and highly public examination. Typically conducted as a lecture to other medical experts and students, the patient was placed in the center of a round room with onlookers arranged in tiered seating to guarantee an unobstructed view. As the lead physician detailed the list of symptoms, using the patient's body as an illustration, observers witnessed the behavioral signs for themselves and discussed the possible underlying conditions or pathologies. This process of consultation and naming worked to increase the relative reliability among experts and bolster the professional reputations of medicine and psychiatry alike (Conrad & Schneider, 1992; Gillis, 2006; Grob & Horwitz, 2010). As researchers have noted (Aronowitz, 2001; Foucault, 1973), this change from focusing on disparate, idiosyncratic symptoms as expressions of individual illness to a system that recognized disease states comprised of symptom clusters marks a historical turning point in the history of medicine. The shift toward a classification scheme that linked medicine with science and technology bolstered medical authority and the power of physicians. In addition to professional credentials, accumulated knowledge, and institutional legitimacy, the authority of modern medicine both rests on and is expressed by medicine's decisive power to name and categorize through diagnosis (Jutel, 2009). Even as medical prestige has eroded, ceding some of its power to other entities,1 physicians remain the final arbiter of official medical categories (Pescosolido, 2006), judges of what is, and what is not, a “real” diagnosis. In the diagnostic process, one looks within to reveal the nature of disease from without – empirical observation becomes immutable fact. Of course, as critical perspectives on medicine have long pointed out (Conrad & Schneider, 1992; Zola, 1972), the scientific “fact” of one time and place is the mythology or ignorance of another. Diagnosis, as both category and process (Blaxter, 1978), is infused with all manner of things social, historical, and cultural. This volume explores some of these infusions. In so doing, it aims to clarify and contribute to the emerging sociology of diagnosis – an endeavor first called for by Brown (1990), but more recently revived by Jutel (2009).
Purpose: To consider the extent to which the legal recognition of non-binary gender has the potential to disrupt the gender binary.Methodology/Approach: This chapter will…
Purpose: To consider the extent to which the legal recognition of non-binary gender has the potential to disrupt the gender binary.
Methodology/Approach: This chapter will employ case study as method, focusing on recent changes to Australian law and policy, which introduce a third gender category. I rely on the work of queer theorists on normativity and recognition as a theoretical framework and on the work of social scientists on transgender people as evidence.
Findings: This chapter finds that while there is much to be celebrated about increasing alternatives to the dominant categories of male and female, the legal recognition of non-binary gender may in fact serve to conceptually purge the dominant gender categories of non-conforming elements while simultaneously masking the ways in which institutions of regulatory power continue to demand conformity with normative standards of gender.
Research Limitations: Since few non-binary individuals in Australia have adopted the X marker the implications laid out in this paper are speculative. The experiences of non-binary individuals present an important avenue for further research.
Practical Implications: I recommend, as an alternative to further gender classifications, that we should seek to minimize the degree to which membership of a particular gender category is used to distribute rights and privileges.
Originality/Value of Paper: This chapter advances the literature on non-binary gender, contributes to existing queer and feminist analyses of the gender binary and extends work on normativity to legal recognition of alternative genders.