Monday, January 18, 2010

is the intersex movement radical?

Today I am going to touch on the controversial world of sexual politics. I want to talk about an odd thing I occasionally read about on the web. This is an accusation by social conservatives that the intersex movement is socially and politically radical. This argument is best summed up on the the Wikipedia entry on "intersexuality":

"social conservatives have claimed that the talk about third sexes represents an ideological agenda to deride gender as a social construct, whereas they believe binary gender (i.e. there is only male and female)is a biological imperative"

The crux of their argument rests on the biological necessity of male and female, and they are part right. We need biological males and females having sex or else our species will die out. However this does not mean that they have to cling to the gender roles and expectations associated with their sex. This also does not mean that there can't be a third, or more sexes, many cultures throughout history have had such a system. While intersex does prove visibly that the gender dichotomy is a myth, most intersex people are not calling for its abolition. The most important part of this accusation is that the intersex movement has a radical agenda to destroy gender. This is simply not the case. First it must be said that many, if not most, intersex people identify as male of female. Most are not genderqueer. No intersex organizations are calling for an end to recognizing males and females, and their differences. We are asking for the right to decide what happens to our bodies, our our self identification notwithstanding. Granted, there are radicals out there who do want to destroy the gender binary, but most of them are not intersex. Sometimes these radicals use intersex conditions in their arguments, however what most intersexuals are asking for is far more modest by comparison. A world that does not recognize binary gender may be friendlier to intersexuals. I realize such a thing would never happen and might create more problems then it would solve. I would be happy if society recognized my bodily rights and had a proper category to place me in.


  1. Binary gender is a biological imperative???? Huh??
    Gender has absolutely nothing to do with biology. If people took an introductory anthropology class, they would know this.
    Binary SEX is a MINIMUM requirement for biological reproduction, but that doesn't mean there can't be more than two sexes.
    Is it just me, or does the conservative right make less and less sense each day?

  2. A third sex...gender...uh which is it?

    There is enough problems for Intersex with two genders ,man/woman , without another. It is simply repeating the catogorising process that underpinned apartheidt.
    Male and female are fiction enough, gender has come to mean so many things it is practicly meaningless and for most people is indistinguishable from sex.
    sex has become gender in the same bathroom has become toilet.

  3. Edit: in the same way toilet has become bathroom