Friday, July 31, 2009

Intersex People – Disordered or Different? The DSD Debate

Intersex People – Disordered or Different? The DSD Debate

Curtis Hinkle – founder of OII

Should intersex people be regarded as having a disorder that needs to be fixed or should they be viewed as natural variations and simply different? Robert Davidson has traced the framing processes executed in a debate over the reshaping of a code among three groups of the intersex social movement in order to understand how the groups engage with the medical discourse on intersex. His paper entitled “DSD Debates: Social Movement Organizations’ Framing Disputes Surrounding the Term ‘Disorders of Sex Development’” is an ongoing PhD research project that summarizes the history surrounding the medical community’s treatment of intersex people. It also includes discussion of the influence of John Money and his nemesis Milton Diamond.

To read the complete article: Click here

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Witch Hunt.

By Sophia Siedlberg
© July 2009

The Catholic Exchange, a small but vocal website who aims to promote Roman Catholic Values also seeks to prevent "Transgender" and "Gender confused" people from getting any legal protection under the law in most countries.

The question is why? Well, I have a simple answer to this, and the two partners in crime at the Catholic Exchange are not going to like it. Dale O Leary and Mary Kochan make a number of comments and statements that really need to be interpreted at face value. It is best to look at their three main arguments and see what they are actually saying.

Download the complete article in pdf: Click here

Questions are a burden

By Sophia Siedlberg
© July 2009

The cheese and wine set in the UK are at it again, leaking little snippets of bad news, like if you have Klinefelters Syndrome or 5-alpha reductase deficiency, you have no access to any change in birth documentation or the Gender Recognition Certificates if you reject being assigned male. Here is an even more interesting leak, the UK Government have been naughty keeping a database of intersex people in Leicester. To what end I wonder.

Download the complete article in pdf: Click here

Sunday, July 26, 2009


LYNDALL BEDDY, Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dr James Barry, probably born Miss Margaret Bulkley, lived in an age which helped the deception. Fashionable men were dandies, dress was as important for men as for women - padded shoulder pads, high heels, ruffles and all the frills

(S)he also arrived at the Cape at an opportune time. Lord Charles Somerset, the only governor of the Cape who was a member of the aristocracy, had lost his beloved wife, with whom he had eloped when she was only 16, thanks to the bungling of a doctor. He was in the mood for a new young modern doctor to trust with the health of his two daughters, and the health of the colony.
Dr James Barry was sponsored by three of the great liberal minds of the day. It is very likely that they knew his secret. Lord Buchan, for instance, was passionate about education for women. Dr Astley Cooper was the world expert on hernias, until Barry surpassed him. And James Barry RA, the uncle after whom Barry was named, had to have known that his niece had become a nephew.
It is even possible that Lord Charles Somerset knew. A scandal erupted when a fraudster, posing as an attorney, in prison and about to be deported, had a poster smuggled out of the prison and put up in the centre of Cape Town, accusing lord Charles of buggery with Dr James Barry. When the doctor, Lord Charles, and his new second wife, appeared at the theatre together, the scandal died down. But Lord Charles closed down the press, which caused an almighty fight about press freedom.
Dr James Barry transformed medical care in the government institutions with emphasis on good nutrition, cleanliness and exercise – ideas way ahead of his time. He spent all his spare money on the poor. He bought the freedom of two slaves, one of them a known hermaphrodite. He transformed the treatment of lepers in the leper colony. He did the first caesarian operation in the Cape, and one of the first ever in the world, on the mother of the child later known as James Barry Munnik. News of this amazing successful operation, after which BOTH mother and child LIVED, spread around the world, over 100 years before Cape Town again became famous for the first heart transplant.
One of the reasons that the doctor was able to do so risky an operation was his expertise on the sexual organs of the human body. He wrote papers on the subject way ahead of the knowledge of the time. With knowledge gained from his own body?
Not only in the Cape but in later postings, in Jamaica, St Helena, Corfu, he did the same modernization of colonial health care. He was on home leave when the Crimean war was being fought – and spent his leave in the war zone, where he had an argument with Florence Nightingale. His instructions on health care pre-date Florence Nightingale’s by 36 years.
It was Barry, and other doctors like him who, spread around the world with colonialism, found the cures and treatments for tropical illnesses. Barry became an expert on venereal diseases, and advocated a treatment using an indigenous Cape plant used by the local herbalists. Everywhere he was posted Barry worked with the indigenous healers and their herbs.
Dr Barry’s instructions for his death had always been explicit – that there was to be no autopsy, and he was to be wrapped in the linen from his bed and buried without examination. But that did not happen, so the secret was discovered, and covered up again.
James Barry was not a man, but the evidence shows that it is unlikely that (s)he was a woman either, nor an hermaphrodite, but most likely a third sex person of the AIS (Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome) variety. (S)he would have had her testicles start to descend at puberty – often the first sign of this conditions, and usually mistaken for the development of a hernia in what appears to be a woman.
Doctors, scientists and philosophers have always known that the third sex exists. Where societies are enlightened enough to allow these things to be recorded, the stats show that about 1 in every 1000 people is from the third sex. Aristotle thought this a condition of a lack of balance between the male and female in a person, but then Aristotle blamed everything on a lack of balance. Galen disputed Aristotle’s theory, and wrote that such people were a third sex on their own, not male or female.
Until relatively recently medical practitioners and parents have conspired to force these children into the accepted mould of either male or female. This is not longer the case in enlightened societies, where the child is allowed to develop until old enough to make choices, and more and more of them are choosing to remain as they are, not to artificially become another sex.
Why almost 2000 years after Galen, do we pretend these people don’t exist, and why do we accord them no status in law, medicine and religion? Those few who have tackled the question have called the third sex the “original undivided Adam”.
Classical knowledge considered there to be seven human sexual variations, from the aggressive Alpha male to the submissive Ultra feminine female.
Is it not time for us to acknowledge that the human race has more than two sexes?
Source: Click here
This is a service of the Organisation Intersex International

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

DSD Debates

DSD Debates: Social Movement Organizations’ Framing Disputes Surrounding the Term ‘Disorders of Sex Development’

Robert J. Davidson


In the last 15 years discussions around ‘intersex’ have increasingly moved beyond the medical/biological realm and taken growing prominence in gender studies, within social movements, and in the socio-cultural realm. This shift was highly promoted by social movement organizations (SMOs) that have arisen to address various issues related to intersex and was also encouraged by some academics in the social sciences and the humanities. Social movement research is only beginning to address intersex advocacy in social movement terms (Turner, 1999; Preves, 2005; Greenberg, 2006). Research regarding social movements in the last two decades has paid increasing attention, however, to discourse (Steinberg, 1998) and how social movements engage with cultural institutions and use frames (Snow & Benford, 2000) to reshape cultural codes (Melucci, 1985, 1996). This article traces the framing processes executed in a debate over the reshaping of a code among three groups of the intersex social movement in order to understand how the groups engage with the medical discourse on intersex. A medical discourse on intersex is traced based on a Foucauldian perspective. A textual framing analysis of the websites of three intersex SMOs is then presented to examine the internal frame disputes between them over the proposed terminology ‘Disorders of Sex Development,’ or ‘DSD’. The SMOs included are the Intersex Society of North America/Accord Alliance (ISNA/Accord)1, Organization Intersex International (OII), and Androgen Insensitivity Support Group UK (AISSGUK). A schema of how each SMO engages with the discourse surrounding intersex is presented and related to the frame disputes over ‘DSD’.

To download the complete article: Click here

Monday, July 20, 2009

Disorderly Conduct

The conference, “Disorderly Conduct” will bring together scholars from around the world and from such disciplines as sociology, philosophy, health studies, history, women's studies, and medicine to explore and problematize the notion of a “disorder”. The conference seeks to bring front-line medical and mental health personnel who treat various “disorders” together with humanities, social science and health and disability studies scholars who work (in one way or another) on theoretical questions related both to specific “disorders” and to the notion of a disorder simpliciter. In workshops and symposia, conference participants will engage questions like the following: What, if any, are the downsides of being diagnosed with a disorder? Does the concept of a disorder provide treatment advantages or disadvantages? Are there other advantanges or disadvantages that it incurs – besides those related to the treatment itself – for those diagnosed with a disorder? Can we reasonably expect to avoid problems of stigmatization and marginalization by turning to a medicalized language of disorder to apprehend and explain embodied difference?


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Life in the twilight zone

By Irfan Husain

Saturday, 18 Jul, 2009 | 04:21 AM PST

Just last week, the New Delhi High Court ruled that homosexuality was legal.

To mark this historic judgment, Jawed Naqvi wrote a wonderful column in this newspaper in which he gave cultural and historical references to establish that traditionally the subcontinent has been hospitable to alternate sexual preferences. It was only the hypocritical Victorian colonists who imposed laws criminalising gay sex.

Reading his article, I mused to myself that it would probably take Pakistani courts years to reach a similarly rational conclusion. How wrong I was. Now, our Supreme Court has observed that being equal citizens of Pakistan, hermaphrodites must have equal benefits and protection under Articles four and nine of the constitution.

Complete article: Click here

This is a service of the Organisation Intersex International

Friday, July 17, 2009

Right to equality

Dawn Editorial

Thursday, 16 Jul, 2009

IN a country where the rights of citizens are abused routinely, the importance of the recent Supreme Court decree that the federal and provincial governments take steps to protect the rights of transvestites is welcome. Discriminated against by virtually every section of society, this group of people is separated from the mainstream because of a backward societal mindset and lack of awareness about physical and emotional gender-related conditions — it must be remembered that the term ‘transvestite’ is used generally in Pakistan to describe hermaphrodites, eunuchs, cross-dressers etc. These people are often forced into the lowest strata of society, subjected to mental and sexual abuse and denied their right to education and employment. Indeed, it is not unknown for families to wash their hands of the responsibility of raising children with gender-related physical abnormalities by handing them over to ‘gurus’, or leaders of ‘transvestite’ gangs, to be raised as prostitutes, beggars or dancers. In the absence of a law or a sizeable forum actively reiterating their rights, these people have been routinely harassed by many, even the police if approached for help.

After hearing the petitioner argue that as a welfare state, it was the government’s responsibility to look after this community, the Supreme Court observed on Tuesday that as equal citizens of Pakistan, ‘transvestites’ should benefit from the federal and provincial governments’ income support schemes such as the Benazir Income Support Programme and that they were entitled to funds from the Baitul Maal. These are encouraging developments and it is hoped that they will lead to an improvement in the financial and societal status of ‘transvestites’. However, there is also a need to address the educational and vocational training requirements of this section of the citizenry. An awareness campaign is just as crucial if societal attitudes are to be changed.

Source: Click here

This is a service of the Organisation Intersex International

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Married boxer plans sex swap operation

A married boxer with three kids has decided to ditch his macho lifestyle and try his hand in the fashion industry... as a woman!

Robert Newbiggins, who was born an "intersexual", meaning he has both male and female genitalia, has spent decades roughing it in the ring, even training with boxing legend Ricky Hatton.

But Rob, 44, has decided to temporarily swap the gloves for a gown, in a bid to forge a modelling career in the States.

Speaking from his home in Southport, Merseyside, Rob said: "I've always wanted to be a woman, ever since I was three-years-old.

"My dad instilled in me from an early age that I needed to be masculine.

"He said it was wrong to be an intersexual and that I needed to act like a man.

"So I took his advice, everything I have done in my life since has been masculine.

To read the complete article: Click here

This is a service of the Organisation Intersex International

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Handbook for Parents in Chinese

OII provides support internationally for parents of intersex children. In order to reach as many parents as possible, we have skilled translators who provide the information in several of the world's major languages.

OII is pleased to announce that our Handbook for Parents is available in Chinese. It is available at the following link:

The Handbook is also available in French, English and Spanish.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

We're all intersex

The author of "Between XX and XY" on people born neither male nor female -and why everyone's a little bit of both

By Thomas Rogers

July 7, 2009 | In the fall of 1998, Lisa May Stevens, a 32-year-old from Idaho, went on a camping trip. Stevens had been told for most of her life that she was a boy, but in her 20s had discovered the truth about her sex -- that she had been born a hermaphrodite, and that doctors had conducted surgeries on her genitalia as an infant. After learning the news, she consulted her priest, who said that while God usually condemns suicides, for her he might make an exception. A decade later, on the third day of her camping trip, she put a pistol under her jaw and pulled the trigger.

To read the complete article: Click here

Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the myth of two sexes, by Gerald N. Callahan

  • Book information
  • Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the myth of two sexes by Gerald N. Callahan
  • Published by: Chicago Review Press

Much of Callahan's book is spent exploring our understanding of intersexuality, from the physicians of ancient Greece to today's neuroendocrinologists. He also weaves in the stories of people who live in the stretch between the classic male and female endpoints. "Truthfully, I think the most important thing I would like people to understand about me is that I am a person," Kailana, who is hermaphrodite, tells him in a diatribe of anger, grief and courage.

Callahan, an associate professor of immunology and the public understanding of science at Colorado State University, is an accomplished and versatile writer. His work has appeared in everything from Nature to the Southern Poetry Review. As a result, the book has an appealingly literary flair, even in the descriptions of complicated biology. Sometimes it verges on purple prose, as when he describes Los Angeles as a place of "limp palm trees curdling in the oily light", but for the most part the language is nicely polished.

To read the complete review: Click here

Friday, July 10, 2009

The quest to be one

Gender politics

Am I a he? Am I a she? Oliver Roberts speaks to three South Africans about the torment of achieving identity when you are both male and female.

Sally Gross has been many things in her life, including a revered political activist, a philosophy lecturer and a Catholic priest. She also spent time in the Israeli army.

Gross was born a man and still is; but she’s also a woman. At least, she decided to become a woman in the early ’90s. She went into hiding in the south of England to adapt to wearing dresses and makeup and turning right instead of left when visiting a public bathroom.

She didn’t have any surgery to change her sex, though — it wasn’t necessary. Gross doesn’t really have a gender. She is both. She is what’s commonly known as a “hermaphrodite”, though the preferred term is “intersexed”.

This condition — atypical sexual differentiation — occurs in about one in 50 people. These figures make it feasible that between 45000 and 90000 South Africans are intersexed. According to, we have one of the highest occurrences of intersexed people in the world.

To read the complete article: Click here

This is a service of the Organisation Intersex International

Confirmed: God is slightly gay

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

Excerpt from article:

And so we extend the idea just a little bit. Because if homosexual/bisexual behavior is universal and by design, if gender mutability is actually deeply woven into the very fabric of nature itself, and if you understand that nature is merely another word for God, well, you can only surmise that God is, to put it mildly, much more than just a little bit gay. I mean, obviously.

But let's be fair. That's not exactly true. God is not really gay, per se. God is more... pansexual. Omnisexual. Gender neutral. Gender indeterminate. It would appear that God, this all-knowing and all-creating and all-seeing divine energy that infuses and empowers all things at all times everywhere, does not give a flying leather whip about gender.

Or rather, She very much does, but not in the simpleminded, hetero-only way 2,000 years of confused religious dogma would have us all believe.

To read the complete article: Click here

This is a service of the Organisation Intersex International

Monday, July 6, 2009

Open Letter to Rev. Al Sharpton

Dear Reverend Al Sharpton,

The Organisation Intersex International (OII) is the only global, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-religious organization for the mutual encouragement, defense, support and human rights activism of Intersex people, their families, friends and allies. We are an inclusive and non-hierarchical peer-group alliance of Intersex, Transsexual, Transgendered, Androgynous and other people who share common concerns about the human rights of any and all people who are being deprived, abused or attacked because of their real or perceived sex or gender differences. Because of our international membership, we also recognize that sex and/or gender variant persons 'of color' often experience additional human rights problems in various countries and cultures globally. Since these problems cannot be separated-out from, and are usually linked-to sexism, they are also part of our human rights concern.

We monitor the global news and especially the scientific, legal and medical news for developments which impact, or have the potential to impact, the lives of our members, their families, friends and allies, and any one else who may be affected. And, if something comes to our attention that should be addressed, we try to alert people about it. This is why we are sending you this notification.

We are very concerned about a psychology professor at the Northwestern University making "diagnoses" of a person who has been one of the most important inspirations to androgynous people worldwide, Michael Jackson. J. Michael Bailey has written one of the most offensive and unprofessional "diagnostic" essays about Michael Jackson that we have read. We feel there are ethical guidelines that psychologists are required to follow and that J. Michael Bailey has felt free to dismiss all ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association by writing this article.

We would appreciate your help concerning this matter.

Kind regards,

Curtis E. Hinkle, Founder of the Organisation Intersex International

To read the article by J. Michael Bailey: Click here

Friday, July 3, 2009

A tribute to Michael Jackson

For androgynous people the world over, Michael Jackson was a trailblazer. We will never forget him.