Intersex Before and After Gender Open Access

Rubin, David (2010)

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The term intersex names the myriad conditions and features of people born with sexual anatomies that society considers to be nonstandard. This dissertation exposes the logic of gender as it emerges through a detailed examination of the normalization of intersex bodies. While women's studies scholars were among the first to critique the medical model of intersex management for its complicity with processes of gender regulation, recent intersex scholarship and activism has focused almost exclusively on the negative impacts of surgical normalization. One effect of this focus has been a lack of attention to other important considerations, such as the ways in which the medical management of intersexuality is linked with the biopolitical regulation of gender difference more broadly. This dissertation argues that the theories of women's and gender studies reveal that current understandings of intersex are inextricable from gendered relations of power and knowledge. Developing an innovative interdisciplinary methodology that draws upon feminist, queer, and disability theories, textual, discursive, institutional, and genealogical analysis, as well as social movement history, the history of science, and transnational cultural studies, this dissertation's particular contributions lay in its insistence that intersex has fundamentally shaped the history of gender as a concept and practice in twentieth and twenty-first century Western culture; that a critical attention to the history and politics of intersex phenomena productively complicates and reframes dominant understandings of gender, sex, sexuality, and embodiment in biomedical, women's studies, and activist discourses; that feminist, queer, and disability studies frameworks shed new light on key dilemmas and debates in intersex activism and advocacy work; and that historicizing intersex as a category that both precedes and, to a significant degree, inaugurates late modern understandings of gender opens up new perspectives on body politics, health, and normality.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Introduction: Intersex Before and After Gender

Chapter 1. "An Unnamed Blank that Craved a Name": A Genealogy of Intersex as

Chapter 2. The Gender Trouble with Intersex in Women's Studies

Chapter 3. The Gender Trouble with Women's Studies in Intersex Activism and

Chapter 4. Intersex Activism, Medical "Normalization," and Human Rights in a
Transnational Frame

Conclusion: Gender and the Future of Intersex


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