Geertje Mak

in Doubting Sex

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780719086908
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702628 | DOI:

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This book has illustrated how in practice different logics were at work to decide on a person's sex (re)assignment: sex as inscription, sex as the body, and sex as the self. Fragmentary evidence from medical case histories reveals long periods of silence, secrecy, non-intervention and tolerance before a case of doubtful sex was disclosed to a physician. The dislocation a sex reassignment brought about in every possible respect as well as the awareness of how others were dishonoured retrospectively, could affect a hermaphrodite deeply. The rationale of sex as inscription did not rule out the rationale of sex as a due representation of physical sex. At the turn of the twentieth century, the logic of the category of sex started to be cut off both from outward, physical appearance and from its inscription in a sexed social and moral body: it turned inwards.

Keywords: sex; inscription; body; hermaphrodite; physical appearance; medical case histories; doubtful sex; sex reassignments

Chapter.  3838 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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