This week seems to provoke one of the most basic concerns within Gender Studies: the use of binaries. However, people with intersex condition spark the debate and issues in an entirely different way. Instead of thinking about what is commonly considered “social constructions” such as gender, femininity, masculinity, etc., intersex makes us think about the validity of the category of “biology”. Alice Dreger’s piece makes us think about the solidity of the biological, anatomical, gonadal, hormonal, and chromosonal determinants of sex. Now, in this sense we are not questioning the validity of these categories as having a function, we are questioning what about or combination of these factors makes one a “female” or “male”. Personally, I would like to say, “Thank you”, to whatever in the womb caused this because “abnormality” needs to be reconsidered and not seen to ever be affected by a “biological” process which is usually out of one’s control. I mean unless your smoking crack or doing heavy drugs, your baby will most likely develop in the manner which “it just does” (I refrain from using “supposed to” due to the loaded nature of this statement).

Intersex condition reminds me of research that I am currently doing for another class on “the identical body” aka identical twins. When I was doing my research, I found no secondary sources on the use of the identical bodies for experiments. Within my  research, I found experiments done on twins and science news letters which marveled at the identical body. However, one statement in a 1931 science news letter explained all of the amazement. The quote went somewhat like this “Identical twins can be an amazing surprise, but if the egg had not separated, the result would be monstrous and the conjoined individuals would be freaks”. Much like intersex condition, in which their ambiguous sex does not conform with a binary framework, conjoined twins who also didn’t develop “as they were meant to” were all the sudden freaks? Ok, wait. Soo, yes this statement was in 1931, but I believe the same stigma still exists within biological processes. We put so much emphasis and trust into the “biological”, which is seen as this perfect, flawless, field, and allow for no variation to occur. I mean during the 9 months you’re in the womb, a biological process did not go “right”, and all of the sudden your considered a “freak” for the rest of your life. That sounds like a misplaced scale to me! Rubin can I get a “WHOOP WHOOP”? When is biology going to understand its own foundations without integrating society’s binary system within it? If we place these binaries within the biological then we allow for no real “nature” to occur. These sorts of issues within Gender Studies, always remind me of the monumental book “Evolution’s Rainbow”. It completely astounds me that biology and society are so linked, always influencing each other in the search for new categories and outcasts. However, with conditions which are not a choice, I am purely outraged that they are seen to be political and are seen to be freaks to society. Society you made this paranoia, not the intersexed individual. Thank biology for that :).

-Katie Schaffer

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