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Online Intersex Communities: Virtual Neighborhoods of Support and Activism By Brian ...

Chapter 1:  Introduction
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Online Intersex Communities:

Just telling a story or responding to it, engaging in communication not possible before, offering advice for dealing with a medical issue or which doctor one should choose—these rhetorical acts are also examples of resistance because they are made by those who previously were not privileged to make them, and as they occur, they contribute to the production of a virtual community that, although influenced by discourse, is an environment that is, to a certain degree, beyond the control of the clinic and, thus, the authority of medical discourse. From such environments, virtual communities are formed that produce narratives of alternative rhetoric that break the rules or contribute to the redefinition of existing ones. Narratives, in fact, that, according to Segal, “have found a place in health research” (59) or are considered productive parts of the discourse that surrounds intersexuality, and, as a result, shapes what it means, and how treatment in response to it is carried out.

Methodology and Overview

To carry out a detailed examination of the nature of these virtual rhetorical narratives and the impact they’ve had in promoting intersex activism, I’ve divided the book into seven chapters including this introduction and a brief conclusion. The second chapter provides an overview of the rhetoric surrounding the medicalization of intersexuality (which is the primary motivator for intersex activism) by framing discussion around a 2000 American Academy of Pediatrics’ document, and its revision coming just six years later, that provided recommendations for the treatment of intersexuality. The dramatic disparity in language and rhetoric in the two versions of the same guide-lines signals the challenging power of intersex activism, just as it offers an insightful backdrop for a discussion of the cultural and historical issues that led to the creation of the first version of the document and as well as to the activism that initiated a drastic revision of it in 2006.