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Lessons from the Intersexed ebook

by Suzanne J. Kessler


Suzanne Kessler (born October 13, 1946 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is an American social psychologist known for the application of ethnomethodology to gender.

Suzanne Kessler (born October 13, 1946 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is an American social psychologist known for the application of ethnomethodology to gender. She and Wendy McKenna pioneered this application of ethnomethodology to the study of gender and sex with their groundbreaking work, Gender an Ethnomethodological Approach. Twenty years later, Kessler extended this work in a second book, Lessons from the Intersexed.

A more complete (and accurate) title for this book might have been: Lessons from Intersexed Individuals Who Disagree with the Treatment Decisions Taken for Them When They Were Children

Only 2 left in stock (more on the way). A more complete (and accurate) title for this book might have been: Lessons from Intersexed Individuals Who Disagree with the Treatment Decisions Taken for Them When They Were Children.

This is a brave book Suzanne J. Kessler is professor of psychology at Purchase College, State.

This is a brave book. Kessler says things that need to be said, and she says them clearly, concisely, and with respect for the people whose lives are most affected by the questions she confronts. A must read for anyone concerned with intersex issues. Lessons from the Intersexed explores the possibilities and implications of suspending a commitment to two "natural" genders. It addresses gender destabilization issues arising from intersexuality and compels a rethinking of the meaning of gender, genitals, and sexuality. Suzanne J. Kessler is professor of psychology at Purchase College, State University of New York.

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Within Lessons from the intersexed Kessler challenges the strategies of the medical profession in their ‘diagnosis’ and . Although Kessler’s work is pragmatic, it does not fail to offer the ‘gender scholar’ a theoretical perspective.

Within Lessons from the intersexed Kessler challenges the strategies of the medical profession in their ‘diagnosis’ and ‘treatment’ of intersexed conditions. Kessler’s analytic engagement locates two main concerns with the medical profession’s diagnosis and treatment of contemporary intersexed conditions. Firstly the criteria that determines diagnosis and treatment decisions, such as surgery, surgery that the Intersexed Movement has called ‘Intersex Genital Mutilation’.

Kessler tells us the intersexed "real lives stories" of pain and suffering. She deconstructs the medical retoric as to how doctors "enforce gender" while inflicting both physical and psychic harm on their intersexed patiennts

Kessler tells us the intersexed "real lives stories" of pain and suffering. She deconstructs the medical retoric as to how doctors "enforce gender" while inflicting both physical and psychic harm on their intersexed patiennts.

Parents of intersexed children are rarely heard from, but in this book they provide another perspective on reasons for genital surgeries and the quality of medical and psychological management. Although physicians educate parents about how to think about their children's condition, Kessler learned from parents of intersexed children that some parents are able to accept atypical genitals.

Suzanne J. Kessler is an American professor of psychology at the State University of New York, Purchase

Suzanne J. Kessler is an American professor of psychology at the State University of New York, Purchase. She is also a social psychologist known for the application of ethnomethodology to gender. Kessler proved that normative tables for clitoral length appeared in the late 1980s, while normative tables for penis length appeared more than forty years before that.

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Lessons from the Intersexed.

From the moment intersexuality-the condition of having physical gender markers (genitals, gonads, or chromosomes) that are neither clearly female nor male-is suspected and diagnosed, social institutions are mobilized in order to maintain the two seemingly objective sexual categories. Infants' bodies are altered, and what was "ambiguous" is made "normal." Kessler's interviews with pediatric surgeons and endocrinologists reveal how the intersex condition is normalized for parents and she argues that the way in which intersexuality is managed by the medical and psychological professions displays our culture's beliefs about gender and genitals.

Parents of intersexed children are rarely heard from, but in this book they provide another perspective on reasons for genital surgeries and the quality of medical and psychological management. Although physicians educate parents about how to think about their children's condition, Kessler learned from parents of intersexed children that some parents are able to accept atypical genitals. Based on analysis of the medical literature and interview with adults who had received treatment as interesexed children, Kessler proposes new approaches for physicians to use in talking with parents and children. She also evaluates the appearance of a politicized vanguard, many of who are promoting an intersexual identity, who seek to alter the way physicians respond to intersexuality.

Kessler explores the possibilities and implications of suspending a commitment to two "natural" genders and addresses gender destabilization issues arising from intersexuality. She thus compels readers to re-think the meaning of gender, genitals, and sexuality.

Bedy
Dr Kessler challenges the preconceived notions of western medicine and social influence on gender identity. Her review of medical practices to correct or intervene on behalf of intersex people stands as a primer for questioning our arbitrary binary categorization of male and female.
David S Bathory, PsyD, WPATH Member & Gender Specialist
Dorilune
fascinating subject but a clinical presentation. It reminds us that many physicians choose to play god.
Thundershaper
Fascinating book. Well researched, and clearly written.
Kadar
This an excellent book on the "gender theory". It is also a starting point for new gender activism. Kessler tells us the intersexed "real lives stories" of pain and suffering. She deconstructs the medical retoric as to how doctors "enforce gender" while inflicting both physical and psychic harm on their intersexed patiennts. She compares the gential reconstruction imposed on the intersexed with that begrundingly provided to (m-to-f) transsexual women and suggested to women with genital cancer. Kessler shows a how we might change gender for the benifit of all. She says: "Institutionalized mutilations occur because the gentials too are taken too seriously...If we want people to respect particular bodies, they need to be taught to lose respect for ideal ones." She suggest that genital piercing, people creating "custom" gentials or men growing breast for their own self pleasure are initial steps to breaking down the connetion between body and gender. From that the two gender system will break down.
Her book has a large number of foot notes and cross references to other works. She is well read and very current. The text is some 131 pages. The footnotes are another 30 pages. The glossary is 4 pages. The bibliography is 10 page. And the index is another 12. This a very well researched book with innovative ideas.
Her closing words are: "We must use what ever means to we have to give up on gender. The problems of intersexuality [and gayness, transsexuals, transvities, ect] will vanish and we will, compensate intersexuals for all the lessons they have provided."
santa
Suzanne J. Kessler
Lessons from the Intersexed

(New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1998) 193 pages
(ISBN: 0-8135-2529-2; hardcover)
(ISBN: 0-8135-2530-6; paperback)
(Library of Congress call number: RC883.K47 1998)

Intersex people were physically ambiguous at birth with respect to their sex:
They were born neither clearly male nor clearly female.
And since it became possible in the 20th century,
they were usually given medical treatments
to make them more definitely one sex or the other.

But the author of this book takes a different stand:
Kessler believes that doctors should not interfere with what nature has created.
She believes that 'gender' is a social construct.

Her consistent use of the word "gender" to refer to the sex of an individual
--whether that person is a male or a female--
continues the confusion so common in our everyday thinking about sex and gender.
When we discuss the gender-personality of an individual person,
whether that person has 'masculine' or 'feminine' character traits,
we are clearly dealing with learned emotional responses.
Likewise, when we refer to the sex-role of an individual,
we a discussing external behavior expected in any society
because the individual is either a male or a female.
Both gender-personalities and sex-roles are fluid and flexible.
These are cultural constructs--the results of experiences since birth.
But the biological sex of any animal organism is not a social construct.
Most animals are clearly male or female.
Only a few have any ambiguity with respect to their biological sex.
These are the intersex individuals.

For a comprehensive discussion of such confusions,
see the present reviewer's book:
Variations of Sex & Gender:
Six Phenomena Frequently Confused.
(Search the Internet for this title: "Variations of Sex and Gender".)

As this reviewer sees it, Lessons from the Intersexed makes more sense
if we readers substitute the word "sex" whenever the author uses the word "gender".
The author's use of the word "gender" is part of her over-all political purpose
of claiming that one's sex is as flexible as one's gender-personality or one's sex-roles.

This book is written from the perspective of the organized groups of intersexuals.
Most babies born with some sexual ambiguity
are now diagnosed and treated from birth
so that they can be as close as possible to whichever sex they most resemble.
The parents of these intersex babies make a decision based on science.
And their children are raised as either boys or girls.
They grow up wanting to be as 'normal' as possible.
Because they want to fade into the general population as regular men or women,
they have no use for the political movement of intersexuals.
Such individuals do not figure in this book.

Before medical treatments for sexual birth defects was possible
or when the facts were not recognized early enough,
some people grew into adulthood as intersex individuals.
Each found his or her own way to cope with his or her body as given.
And sometimes they joined social and political groups
with others who have some variation of biological sex.

Some of the interviews for this book took place in 1985.
So they reflect the experiences of the interviewees some years before that time.
Kessler describes a rather rudimentary method for treating intersex babies:
Sex was assigned on the basis of the external genitals alone:
If it is large enough and can be enlarged, it is called a penis.
And the baby is a boy.
If it is small and can be reduced, it is called a clitoris.
And the baby is a girl.
The family doctor of decades ago had no way to discover
whether the baby was XX (female) or XY (male),
or some other patterns of genes that created an intersex baby.

But modern science has much better tools now:
instead of depending on the appearance of the external genitals alone,
we can now decide the sex of the baby on the basis of sex-chromosomes.
A simple blood-test can disclose the exact chromosomal make-up of the new child.

Once the biological sex of the child is determined and announced,
the socialization processes begin.
All the relatives treat the new baby as either a boy or a girl.
If there was some ambiguity of biological sex present from birth,
the doctor might have given a simple, one-sentence explanation.
But when individuals born intersex become teen-agers,
they usually want more explanation of their differences from their peers.
They might consult the scientific literature about their birth defects.

But if they join groups for intersexuals,
they will usually have developed their own mythologies,
which explain what they are and how they should live.

In some state laws in the United States that deal with sex-change operations,
the sex of an individual is defined by reproductive capacity:
When a born-male is changed into a female,
he must lose the capacity to father children.
Likewise, when a born-female is changed into a male,
she must lose the capacity the bear children.

Intersex individuals who have grown into adulthood
with little or no physical modifications
might also adopt the same convention:
Their male/female self-designation might depend on their reproductive capacities.
Are they closer to normal biological males or normal biological females?
When unusual imprinted sexual fantasies and homosexual variations are added,
the situation becomes even more complex.
See Variations of Sex & Gender: Six Phenomena Frequently Confused.

Kessler is concerned about changing the size and appearance of the external genitals.
She takes the position that doctors should do nothing.
Herein she goes against most modern medical advice.
She has talked mainly with intersex individuals who had problems later
because of decisions that were made when they were babies.
So she concludes that these individuals
would have been better off if the doctors had done nothing.

If her research had included people who were very satisfied
with their sex as assigned (and perhaps surgically corrected)
when they were still infants,
she would not be so completely against operations to correct birth defects.
If she interviewed only intersex individuals
who believe they were damaged or mutilated as infants or children,
how could she come to any other conclusions than
that operating on intersex babies should be banned?

However, we do have lots of experience with the 'do nothing' option:
Thru-out most of human history (and pre-history),
it was simply not possible to do anything about birth defects.
People just learned to live with whatever abnormalities they had from birth.
In other words, the 'default' decision for most of the human race was do nothing.

Until the middle 20th century, there was no way to investigate
the causes and prognosis of any abnormality.
But now doctors can carefully compare each variation
with what is known about that variation in other individuals.

A good scientific research project would be a follow-up survey
of all children who received some medical treatment
because of various sexual birth-defects.
What percentage had each identified kind of defect?
What percentage of each class was pleased with the results as adults?
What percentage of each class was displeased with the results
--and in what specific ways were they dissatisfied?
There are now probably thousands of adults in the US
who were treated for birth-defects related to sex.

Adults have a right to make their own decisions about sex.
But parents must decide for their infant children.
And they will usually depend on medical advice.
So far, there are few medical experts who support the do-nothing option.
But will further research find cases in which it would be best to do nothing?

Readers of this book will notice a strong author-bias against doctors.
She worries that doctors will not be concerned enough
about the sexual enjoyment of people who have had genital surgery,
which would be especially relevant when 'reducing' a clitoris.
The author seems to want to blame doctors
for everything bad reported by intersexuals.
She has read the medical literature,
but she basically uses it to discredit doctors.

The author mostly ignores the underlying
genetic and hormonal causes of the birth abnormalities.
About 70 different variations from normal biological males or females
have now been identified.
These are really mistakes of nature,
not distortions caused by doctors.
Doctors seek to correct these mistakes of nature,
not force all people to be conventional men or women.

Is the author worried that medical science
might once again be turned toward 'curing' homosexuality?

The people interviewed for Lessons from the Intersexed
mostly see themselves as victims and part of the sex-and-gender minority.
But most intersex babies were 'corrected' soon after birth.
And they went on to live unremarkable lives as men or women.
Some do not even know they were abnormal in any way.
And most have learned to live with whatever physical differences they have.
After all, exact genital appearance is not a matter of public concern.

Scientific follow-up for such individuals would not be easy.
How would a researcher find them?
Those who know about their birth-defects
usually do not think of themselves as socially or sexually different.
And they might not want to be reminded of their birth-defects.

Nevertheless this book was needed.
It does validly point out many problems in handling intersex individuals.
This reviewer agrees that some of the surgeries were not needed.
They were done mainly because of lack of tolerance of sexual ambiguity.
In some cases, surgery was done because it could be done.

Since most children do not see many genitals when they are young,
they do not have a lot of data for making comparisons.
Their own variations from some norm might not be important.
But it is psychologically and socially important
for each child to know which sex he or she is.
This might be different in a hypothetical culture that ignores sexual differences,
but in most cultures, everyone must be known as either male or female.

Some surgeries can be delayed
until the child is old enough to participate in the decisions.
For example, why construct a vagina that will never be used?

Kessler points out that some female-to-male transsexuals
do not need a penis for sex.
They want to continue having sex with women
while believing that they are men.
Surgeons are content with good-looking results.
But the parents and the patients have to cope with lots of other problems
created when the child is not normally a male or a female.

This book does not deal with the reproductive capacities of intersex individuals.
This seems a serious omission since having children
is one of the most important meanings-of-life for some people.
Some intersex persons are surely more concerned about parenthood
than about the external appearance of their genitals.

This is a book of advocacy rather than science.
Parents looking for help in deciding what to do with defective newborns
will have to look elsewhere.
When they have a full picture of the exact biological situation
and when they have considered the whole future of the child
with each of the possible courses of action,
then they should be able to make wise decisions.

A more complete (and accurate) title for this book might have been:
Lessons from Intersexed Individuals Who Disagree
with the Treatment Decisions Taken for Them When They Were Children.

If you would like to read other books on being intersexual,
search the Internet for the following bibliography:
"HERMAPHRODITISM---Intersex Bibliography".

James Leonard Park, author of
Imprinted Sexual Fantasies: A New Key for Sexology.
Vonalij
This was not really what I expected but it does contain very helpful information. It is well written and will be most useful as a research book.
Avarm
great reading, but i have to tell you that i am always pressed to educate people of their own nature. i have this very strong power that i now release, and i want to know more about the kind of humans that stay so private, they cannot enjoy life as some of us could. and for this, i take serious my friends earthly time. doesn't anyone stop the analysis?.....being a Y2K person for so many years, this must be an issue for the next mil........jon here, just wondering...
Lessons from the Intersexed ebook
Author:
Suzanne J. Kessler
Category:
Social Sciences
EPUB size:
1685 kb
FB2 size:
1558 kb
DJVU size:
1913 kb
Language:
Publisher:
Rutgers University Press; None ed. edition (July 1, 1998)
Pages:
208 pages
Rating:
4.5
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