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

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Online Intersex Communities:

Anne Fausto-Sterling’s Sexing the Body, appearing in 2000, offers insights into the cultural forces at work in defining sexual identity, as well as treating those instances of bodies that defy socially defined gender roles. Suzanne Kessler’s Lessons from the Intersexed (2003) relies on interviews with medical practitioners as well as intersexed persons and their parents as she explores the boundaries of gender. In particular, she takes issue with the assumption behind the historical treatment of intersexed persons, which is the “emphasis on the genitals as evidence of gender” (7). Kessler argues for gender’s constitution to be less defined along binary lines and more as something variable not with only two options but rather with varying degrees of possibility (9). Sharon Preves’ Intersex and Identity: The Contested Self (2003) explores, through interviews with intersexed persons, how individuals cope with the demands of living abnormally, or being regarded as sexually deviant because of societal, not scientific, definitions. As she writes, “[B]odies that are considered normal or abnormal are not inherently that way. They are, rather, classified as aberrant or customary by social agreement” (3).

A number of articles have looked at the ethics of treatment regarding intersexed persons. Some, such as those by Dreger, Sharon Sytsma, Edmund Howe, Kenneth Zucker, and Iain Morland, appear in Sytsma’s edited collection, Ethics and Intersex (2006). Milton Diamond, one of the earliest critics of the medical paradigm long in practice for treating intersexuality, has penned a number of important essays challenging the status quo, including pieces with Keith Sigmundson (1997) and Kenneth Kipnis (1999). Sheri Groveman, among others, has advocated for changes to methods of treatment (1999).