Since 1990, when Suzanne Kessler published her foundational feminist critique of the modern-day medical treatment of children with intersex, much has changed in intersex politics, practice, and theory. This essay traces some key points of progress and considers in particular the relationship of academic feminism and intersex advocacy; proof of and reasons for success in intersex medical advocacy; and intersex identity politics, especially with regard to the nature-nurture debate and terminology (intersex versus hermaphroditism versus disorders of sex development). The authors are university-based academic feminists who have worked intensively as volunteers and as paid directors at the Intersex Society of North America, the longest-running and best-known intersex advocacy and policy organization. In this work, they draw on the published literature as well as their own activist and academic experiences. They argue that, in the last fifteen years, much progress has been made in terms of improving the medical and social attitudes toward people with intersex, but that significant work remains to be done to ensure that children born with sex anomalies will be treated in a way that privileges their long-term well-being over societal norms. They also argue that, while feminist scholars have been critically important in developing the theoretical underpinnings of the intersex rights movement and sometimes in carrying out the day-to-day political work of that movement, there have been intellectual and political problems with some feminists' approaches to intersex.
Research Article|April 01 2009
PROGRESS AND POLITICS IN THE INTERSEX RIGHTS MOVEMENT: Feminist Theory in Action
GLQ (2009) 15 (2): 199-224.
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Alice D. Dreger, April M. Herndon; PROGRESS AND POLITICS IN THE INTERSEX RIGHTS MOVEMENT: Feminist Theory in Action. GLQ 1 April 2009; 15 (2): 199–224. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-2008-134
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