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’.
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