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The Five Sexes",[4] in which, according to her, "I had intended to be provocative, but I had also written with tongue firmly in cheek."[5] Fausto-Sterling laid out a thought experiment considering an alternative model of gender containing five sexes: male, female, merm, ferm, and herm. This thought experiment was interpreted by some as a serious proposal or even a theory; advocates for intersex people stated that this theory was wrong, confusing and unhelpful to the interests of intersex people. In a later paper ("The Five Sexes, Revisited"[5]), she has acknowledged these objections.




A CONVERSATION WITH- Anne Fausto-Sterling; Exploring What Makes Us Male or
Female


On a recent frozen winter evening, Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling, 56, a professor of biology and women's studies at Brown, sat in a restaurant here, nibbling on a light snack and talking about her favorite subject: the application of ideas about gender roles to the formal study of biology.

In the academic world, Dr. Fausto-Sterling is known as a developmental biologist who offers interesting counterpoints to the view that the role division between men and women is largely predetermined by evolution.

Her 1985 book, "Myths of Gender: Biological Theories About Women and Men," is used in women's studies courses throughout the country. Dr. Fausto-Sterling's newest work, "Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality," is a look at societal ideas about gender as seen through the eyes of human beings defined as neither male or female-- hermaphrodites.

Q. What can we learn about gender from examining how the medical profession treats infants born with ambiguous genitalia? These are children who were once called "hermaphrodites," and whom you would prefer we term "intersexuals."
A. From them, we can literally see how society's ideas about male and female are constructed. When infants with ambiguous genitalia are born, everyone -- parents, doctors -- are very upset and the physicians often suggest drastic surgeries to assign a specific gender to the child. The regimen usually involves the doctors' deciding what sex the child ought to be. Then, they
surgically reconstruct the patient to conform to that diagnosis: body parts are taken out, others are

added, hormones are given, or taken away.



In the end, the doctors take a body that was clearly neither male or female and turn it into one they can represent to the world as "male" or "female."
Q. How did the fate of intersexual children become your passion?

A. In the early 1990's, I began looking into this because I was interested in a theoretical question that was circulating around feminist studies at that time; I wanted to know, What is meant when we say, "the body is a social construction?" At the time, social scientists were looking into how our ideas about the human body were shaped by politics and culture. That inquiry led me to a lot of the medical literature on intersexuality.
Q. How many people do you estimate are born intersexuals?

A. It depends on how you count. Working with Brown undergraduates, I did some research and we found that maybe 1 1/2 to 2 percent of all births do not fall strictly within the tight definition




















184




of all-male or all-female, even if the child looks that way. Beyond having a mixed set of genitals, you could have an individual with an extra Y chromosome.

He'd still look like a standard male, but he'd have this extra chromosome. Or you could have someone who was XO, a female with underdeveloped ovaries, known medically as having Turner's Syndrome.

My point is that there's greater human variation than supposed. My political point is that we can afford to lighten up about what it means to be male or female. We should definitely lighten up on those who fall in between because there are a lot of them.



Q. You want a halt to sexual assignment surgeries on infants. Why?

A. People deserve to have a choice about something as important as that. Infants can't make choices. And the doctors often guess wrong. They might say, "We think this infant should be a female because the sexual organ it has is small." Then, they go and remove the penis and the testes. Years later, the kid says, "I'm a boy, and that's what I want to be, and I don't want to take estrogen, and by the way, give me back my penis." I feel we should let the kids tell us what they think is right once they are old enough to know. Till then, parents can talk to the kids in a way
that gives them permission to be different, they can give the child a gender neutral name, they can

do a provisional gender assignment. Of course, there are some cases where infants are born with life-threatening malformations. In those rare situations, surgery is called for.
Q. In "Sexing the Body," you suggest that estrogen and testosterone should not be termed sex hormones. You'd prefer we called them growth hormones. Why?
A. The molecules we call sex hormones affect our liver, our muscles, our bones, virtually every tissue in the body. In addition to their roles in our reproductive system, they affect growth and development throughout life. So to think of them as growth hormones, which they are, is to stop worrying that men have a lot of testosterone and women, estrogen.
Q. Among gay people, there is a tendency to embrace a genetic explanation of homosexuality. Why is that?
A. It's popular idea with gay men. Less so, with gay women. I think gay men also face a particularly difficult psychological situation because they are seen as embracing something hated in our culture -- the feminine -- and so they'd better come up with a good reason for what they are doing.

































































185


Gay women, on the other hand, are seen as, rightly or wrongly, embracing something our culture values highly -- masculinity. Now that whole analysis that gay men are feminine and gay women are masculine, is itself open to big question, but it provides a cop-out and an area of relief. You know, "It's not my fault, you have to love me anyway."

It provides the disapproving relatives with an excuse: "It's not my fault, I didn't raise 'em wrong." It provides a legal argument that is, at the moment, actually having some sway in court. For me, it's a very shaky place. It's bad science and bad politics. It seems to me that the way we consider homosexuality in our culture is an ethical and a moral question.

The biology here is poorly understood. The best controlled studies performed to measure genetic contributions to homosexuality say that 50 percent of what goes into making a person homosexual is genetic. That means 50 percent is not. And while everyone is very excited about genes, we are clueless about the equally important nongenetic contributions.
Q. Why do you suppose lesbians have been less accepting than gay men about genetics as
the explanation for homosexuality.
A. I think most lesbians have more of a sense of the cultural component in making us who we are. If you look at many lesbians' life histories, you will often find extensive heterosexual experiences. They often feel they've made a choice. I also think lesbians face something that males don't: at the end of the day, they still have to be women in a world run by men. All of that makes them very conscious of complexity.
Q. How much of your thinking about sexual plasticity comes from your own life? You've
been married. You are now in a committed relationship with the playwright Paula Vogel. A. My interest in gender issues preceded my own life changes. When I first got involved in feminism, I was married. The gender issues did to me what they did to lots of women in the 1970's: they infuriated me. My poor husband, who was a very decent guy, tried as hard as he could to be sympathetic. But he was shut out of what I was doing. The women's movement opened up the feminine in a way that was new to me, and so my involvement made possible my becoming a lesbian. My ex and I are still friends. He's remarried.
Q. So the antifeminists are right: women's liberation is the first step toward lesbianism? A. (Laughs) It's true. I call myself a lesbian now because that is the life I am living, and I think it is something you should own up to. At the moment, I am in a happy relationship and I don't ever imagine changing it. Still, I don't think loving a man is unimaginable.
Q. What do you think nature is telling us by making intersexuals?


A. That nature is not an ideal state. It is filled with imperfections and developmental variation. We have all these Aristotelian categories of male and female. Nature doesn't have them. Nature creates a whole lot of different forms.

The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough

By Anne Fausto-Sterling

The Sciences March!Aprill993, p. 20-24

Anne Fausto-Sterling is Professor of Biology and Women's Studies in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Biochemistry at Brown University. Professor Fausto Sterling's new book, entitled Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality, appeared in February, 2000.

In 1843 Levi Suydam, a twenty-three-year-old resident of Salisbury, Connecticut, asked the town board of selectmen to validate his right to vote as a Whig in a hotly contested local election. The request raised a flurry of objections from the opposition party, for reasons that must be rare in L'le at1.. .1.ais of A.tu.erican democracy: it was said that Suydam was more female than male and thus (some eighty years before suffrage was extended to women) could not be allowed to cast a ballot. To settle the dispute a physician, one William James Barry, was brought in to examine Suydam. And, presumably upon encountering a phallus, the good doctor declared the prospective voter male. With Suydam safely in their column the Whigs won the election by a majority of one.

Barry's diagnosis, however, turned out to be somewhat premature. Within a few days he discovered that, phallus notwithstanding, Suydam menstruated regularly and had a vaginal opening. Both his/her physique and his/her mental predispositions were more complex than was first suspected. S/he had narrow shoulders and broad hips and felt occasional sexual yearnings for women. Suydam's '"feminine propensities, such as a fondness for gay colors, for pieces of calico, comparing and placing them together, and an aversion for bodily labor, and an inability to perform the same, were remarked by many," Barry later wrote. It is not clear whether Suydam lost or retained the vote, or whether the election results were reversed.

Western culture is deeply committed to the idea that there are only two sexes. Even language refuses other possibilities; thus to write about Levi Suydam I have had to invent conventions-slhe and his/her-to denote someone who is clearly neither male nor female or who is perhaps both sexes at once. Legally, too, every adult is either man or woman, and the difference, of course, is not trivial. For Suydam it meant the franchise; today it means being available for, or exempt from, draft registration, as well as being subject, in various ways, to a number oflaws governing marriage, the family and human intimacy. In many parts of the United States, for instance, two people legally registered
as men cannot have sexual relations without violating anti-sodomy statutes.

187

But if the state and the legal system have an interest in maintaining a two-party sexual system, they are in defiance of nature. For biologically speaking, there are many gradations running from female to male; and depending on how one calls the shots, one can argue that along that spectrum lie at least five sexes-and perhaps even more.

For some time medical investigators have recognized the concept of the intersexual body. But the standard medical literature uses the term intersex as a catch-all for three major subgroups with some mixture of male and female characteristics: the so-called true hermaphrodites, whom I call herms, who possess one testis and one ovary (the sperm
and egg-producing vessels, or gonads); the male pseudohermaphrodites (the "merms"),
who have testes and some aspects of the female genitalia but no ovaries; and the female pseudohermaphrodites (the "ferms"), who have ovaries and some aspects of the male genitalia but lack testes. Each of those categories is in itself complex; the percentage of male and female characteristics, for instance, can vary enormously among members of the same subgroup. Moreover, the inner lives of the people in each subgroup- their special needs and their problems, attractions and repulsions-have gone unexplored by science. But on the basis of what is known about them I suggest that the three intersexes, herm, merm and ferm, deserve to be considered additional sexes each in its own right.
Indeed, I would argue further that sex is a vast, infinitely malleable continuum that defies
the c.onstraints of even five categories.

Not surprisingly, it is extremely difficult to estimate the frequency of intersexuality, much less the frequency of each of the three additional sexes: it is not the sort of information one volunteers on a job application. The psychologist John Money of Johns Hopkins University, a specialist in the study of congenital sexual-organ defects, suggests intersexuals may constitute as many as 4 percent of births. As I point out to my students at Brown University, in a student body of about 6,000 that fraction, if correct, implies there may be as many as 240 intersexuals on campus-surely enough to form a minority caucus of some kind.

In reality though, few such students would make it as far as Brown in sexually diverse form. Recent advances in physiology and surgical technology now enable physicians to catch most intersexuals at the moment of birth.

Almost at once such infants are entered into a program of hormonal and surgical management so that they can slip quietly into society as "normal" heterosexual males or females. I emphasize that the motive is in no way conspiratorial. The aims of the policy are genninely humanitarian, reflecting the wish that people be able to "fit in" both physically and psychologically In the medical community, however, the assumptions behind that wish-that there be only two sexes, that heterosexuality alone is normal, that there is one true model of psychological health-have gone virtually unexamined.

The word hermaphrodite comes from the Greek name Hermes, variously known as the messenger of the gods, the patron of music, the controller of dreams or the protector of livestock, and Aphrodite, the goddess of sexual love and beauty. According to Greek mythology, those two gods parented Hermaphroditus, who at age fifteen became half


male and half female when his body fused with the body of a nymph he feU in love with. In some true hermaphrodites the testis and the ovary grow separately but bilateraily, in others they grow together within the same organ, forming an ovo-testis. Not infrequently, at least one of the gonads functions quite weii, producing either sperm ceiis or eggs, as weii as functional levels of the sex hormones-androgens or estrogens. Although in theory it might be possible for a true hermaphrodite to become both father and mother to
a child, in practice the appropriate ducts and tubes are not configured so that egg and sperm can meet

In contrast with the true hermaphrodites, the pseudohermaphrodites possess two gonads of the same kind along with the

usual male (XY) or female (XX) chromosomal makeup. But their external genitalia and secondary sex characteristics do not match their chromosomes. Thus merms have testes and XY chromosomes, yet they also have a vagina and a clitoris, and at puberty they often develop breasts. They do not menstruate, however. Ferms have ovaries, two X chromosomes and sometimes a uterus, but they also have at least partly masculine
external genitalia. Without medical intervention they can develop beards, deep voices and adult-size penises.

No classification scheme could more than suggest the variety of sexual anatomy encountered in clinical practice. In 1969, for example, two French investigators, Paul Guinet of the Endocrine Clinic in Lyons and Jacques Decourt of the Endocrine Clinic in Paris, described ninety-eight cases of true hermaphroditism-again, signifYing people with both ovarian and testicular tissue-- solely according to the appearance of the external genitalia and the accompanying ducts. In some cases the people exhibited strongly feminine development They had separate openings for the vagina and the urethra, a cleft vulva defined by both the large and the small labia, or vaginal lips, and at puberty they developed breasts and usually began to menstruate. It was the oversize and sexua11y alert clitoris, which threatened sometimes at puberty to grow into a penis, that usually impeiled them to seek medical attention. Members of another group also had breasts and a feminine body type, and they menstruated. But their labia were at least partly fused, forming an incomplete scrotum. The phaiius (here an embryological term for a structure that during usual development goes on to form either a clitoris or a penis) was between 1.5 and 2.8 inches long; nevertheless, they urinated through a urethra that opened into or near the vagina.

By far the most frequent form of true hermaphrodite encountered by Guinet and Decourt-55 percent-appeared to have a more masculine physique. In such people the urethra runs either through or near the phallus, which looks more like a penis than a clitoris. Any menstrual blood exits periodically during urination. But in spite of the relatively male appearance of the genitalia, breasts appear at puberty. It is possible that a sample larger than ninety-eight so-called true hermaphrodites would yield even more contrasts and subtleties. Suffice it to say that the varieties are so diverse that it is possible to know which parts are present and what is attached to what only after exploratory
surgery. 189


The embryological origins of human hermaphrodites clearly fit what is known about male and female sexual development. The embryonic gonad generally chooses early in development to follow either a male or a female sexual pathway; for the ovo-testis, however, that choice is fudged. Similarly, the embryonic phallus most often ends up as a clitoris or a penis, but the existence of intermediate states comes as no surprise to the embryologist. There are also uro-genital swellings in the embryo that usually either stay open and become the vaginal labia or fuse and become a scrotum. In some hermaphrodites, though, the choice of opening or closing is ambivalent. Finally, all
mammalian embryos have structures that can become the female uterus and the fallopian tubes, as well as structures that can become part of the male sperm-transport system. Typically either the male or the female set of those primordial genital organs degenerates, and the remaining structures achieve their sex-appropriate future. In hermaphrodites both sets of organs develop to varying degrees.

Intersexuality itself is old news. Hermaphrodites, for instance, are often featured in stories about human origins. Early biblical scholars believed Adam began life as a hermaphrodite and later divided into two people-- a male and a female-- after falling from grace. According to Plato there once were three sexes-male, female and hermaphrodite-- but the third sex was lost with time.

Both the Talmud and the Tosefta, the Jewish books oflaw, list extensive regulations for people of mixed sex. The Tosefta expressly forbids hermaphrodites to inherit their
fathers' estates (like daughters), to seclude themselves with women (like sons) or to shave (like men). When hermaphrodites menstruate they must be isolated from men (like women); they are disqualified from serving as witnesses or as priests (like women), but the laws of pederasty apply to them.

In Europe a pattern emerged by the end of the Middle Ages that, in a sense, has lasted to the present day: hermaphrodites were compelled to choose an established gender role and stick with it. The penalty for transgression was often death. Thus in the 1600s a Scottish hermaphrodite living as a woman was buried alive after impregnating his/her master's daughter.

For questions of inheritance, legitimacy, paternity, succession to title and eligibility for certain professions to be determined, modern Anglo-Saxon legal systems require that newborns be registered as either male or female. In the U.S. today sex determination is governed by state laws. Illinois permits adults to change the sex recorded on their birth certificates should a physician attest to having performed the appropriate surgery The New York Academy of Medicine on the other hand, has taken an opposite view. In spite of surgical alterations of the external genitalia, the academy argued in 1966, the chromosomal sex remains the same. By that measure, a person's wish to conceal his or her original sex cannot outweigh the public interest in protection against fraud.

During this century the medical community has completed what the legal world began
the complete erasure of any form of embodied sex that does not conform to a male-


female, heterosexual pattern. Ironically, a more sophisticated knowledge of the complexity of sexual systems has led to the repression of such intricacy.

In 1937 the urologist Hugh H. Young of Johns Hopkins University published a volume titled Genital Abnormalities, Hermaphrodites and Related Adrenal Diseases. The book is remarkable for its erudition, scientific insight and open-mindedness. In it Young drew together a wealth of carefully documented case histories to demonstrate and study the medical treatment of such "accidents of birth." Young did not pass judgment on the people he studied, nor did he attempt to coerce into treatment those intersexuals; who rejected that option. And he showed unusual evenhandedness in referring to those people who had sexual experiences as both men and women as "Practicing hermaphrodites."

One of Young's more interesting cases was a hermaphrodite named Emma who had grown up as a female. Emma had both a penis-size clitoris and a vagina, which made it possible for him! her to have "normal" heterosexual sex with both men and women. As a teenager Emma had had sex with a number of girls to whom slhe was deeply attracted; but at the age of nineteens/he had married a man. Unfortunately, he had given Emma little sexual pleasure (though he had had no complaints), and so throughout that marriage and subsequent ones Emma had kept girlfriends on the side. With some frequency slhe had pleasurable sex with them. Young describes his subject as appearing "to be quite content and even happy." In conversation Emma occasionally told him of his/her wish to be a man, a circumstance Young said would be relatively easy to bring about. But Emma's reply strikes a heroic blow for self-interest:

Would you have to remove that vagina? I don't know about that because that's my meal ticket. If you did that, I would have to quit my husband and go to work, so I think I'll keep it and stay as I am. My husband supports me well, and even though I don't have any sexual pleasure with him, I do have lots with my girlfriends.

Yet even as Young was illuminating intersexuality with the light of scientific reason, he was beginning its suppression. For his book is also an extended treatise on the most modem surgical and hormonal methods of changing intersexuals, into either males or females. Young may have differed from his successors in being less judgmental and controlling of the patients and their families, but he nonetheless supplied the foundation on which current intervention practices were built.

By 1969, when the English physicians Christopher J. Dewhurst and Ronald R. Gordon wrote The Intersexual Disorders, medical and surgical approaches to intersexuality had neared a state of rigid uniformity. It is hardly surprising that such a hardening of opinion took place in the era of the feminine mystique-- of the post-Second World War flight to the suburbs and the strict division of family roles according to sex. That the medical consensus was not quite universal (or perhaps that it seemed poised to break apart again) can be gleaned from the near-hysterical tone of Dewhurst and Gordon's book, which contrasts markedly with the calm reason of Young's founding work. Consider their opening description of an intersexual newborn:


One can only attempt to imagine the anguish of the parents. That a newborn should have a deformity ... [affecting] so fundamental an issue as the very sex of the child ... is a tragic event which immediately conjures up visions of a hopeless psychological misfit doomed to live always as a sexual freak in loneliness and frustration.

Dewhurst and Gordon warned that such a miserable fate would, indeed, be a baby's lot should the case be improperly managed; "but fortunately," they wrote, "with correct management the outlook is infinitely better than the poor parents-emotionally stunnedby the event-or indeed anyone without special knowledge could ever imagine."

Scientific dogma has held fast to the assumption that without medical care hermaphrodites are doomed to a life of misery. Yet there are few empirical studies to back up that assumption, and some of the same research gathered to build a case for medical treatment contradicts it. Francies Benton, another of Young's practicing
hermaphrodites, "had not worried over his condition, did not wish to be changed,_and was
enjoying life." The same could be said of Emma, the opportunistic hausfrau. Even Dewhurst and Gordon, adamant about the psychological importance of treating intersexuals; at the infant stage, acknowledged great success in "changing the sex" of older patients. They reported on twenty cases of children reclassified into a different sex after the supposedly critical age of eighteen months. They asserted that all the reclassifications were "successful," and they wondered then whether reregistration could be "recommended more readily than [had] been suggested so far."

The treatment of intersexuality in this century provides a dear example of what the French historian Michel Foucault has called biopower. The knowledge developed in biochemistry, embryology, endocrinology, psychology and surgery has enabled physicians to control the very sex of the human body. The multiple contradictions in that kind of power call for some scrutiny. On the one hand, the medical "management" of intersexuality certainly developed as part of an attempt to free people from perceived psychological pain (though whether the pain was the patient's, the parents' or the physician's is unclear). And if one accepts the assumption that in a sex-divided culture people can realize their greatest potential for happiness and productivity only if they are sure they belong to one of only two acknowledged sexes, modern medicine has been extremely successful.

On the other hand, the same medical accomplishments can be read not as progress but as a mode of discipline. Hermaphrodites have unruly bodies. They do not fall naturally into a binary classification; only a surgical shoehorn can put them there. But why should we care if a "woman," defined as one who has breasts, a vagina, a uterus and ovaries and who menstruates, also has a clitoris large enough to penetrate the vagina of another woman? Why should we care if there are people whose biological equipment enables them to have sex "naturally" with both men and women? The answers seem to lie in a cultural need to maintain clear distinctions between the sexes. Society mandates the control of intersexual bodies because they blur and bridge the great divide. Inasmuch as hermaphrodites literally embody both sexes, they challenge traditional beliefs about


sexual difference: they possess the irritating ability to live sometimes as one sex and sometimes the other, and they raise the specter of homosexuality.

But what if things were altogether different? Imagine a world in which the same knowledge that has enabled medicine to intervene in the management of intersexual patients has been placed at the service of multiple sexualities. Imagine that the sexes have multiplied beyond currently imaginable limits. It would have to be a world of shared powers. Patient and physician, parent and child, male and female, heterosexual and homosexual-all those oppositions and others would have to be dissolved as sources of division. A new ethic of medical treatment would arise, one that would permit ambiguity in a culture that had overcome sexual division. The central mission of medical treatment would be to preserve life. Thus hermaphrodites would be concerned primarily not about whether they can conform to society but about whether they might develop potentially
life-threatening conditions-hernias, gonadal tumors, salt imbalance caused by adrenal malfunction-that sometimes accompany hermaphroditic development. In my ideal
world medical intervention for intersexuals would take place only rarely before the age of
reason; subsequent treatment would be a cooperative venture between physician, patient and other advisers trained in issues of gender multiplicity.

I do not pretend that the transition to my utopia would be smooth. Sex, even the supposedly "normal," heterosexual kind, continues to cause untold anxieties in Western society. And certainly a culture that has yet to come to grips-religiously and, in some states, legally-with the ancient and relatively uncomplicated reality of homosexual love will not readily embrace intersexuality. No doubt the most troublesome arena by far would be the rearing of children. Parents, at least since the Victorian era, have fretted, sometimes to the point of outright denial, over the fact that their children are sexual beings.

All that and more amply explains why intersexual children are generally squeezed into one of the two prevailing sexual categories. But what would be the psychological consequences of taking the alternative road-raising children as unabashed intersexuals? On the surface that tack seems fraught with peril. What, for example, would happen to
the intersexual child amid the unrelenting cruelty of the school yard? When the time
came to shower in gym class, what horrors and humiliations would await the intersexual as his/her anatomy was displayed in all its nontraditional glory? In whose gym class would slhe register to begin with? What bathroom would slhe use? And how on earth would Mom and Dad help shepherd him/her through the mine field of puberty?

In the past thirty years those questions have been ignored, as the scientific community has, with remarkable unanimity, avoided contemplating the alternative route of unimpeded intersexuality, But modem investigators tend to overlook a substantial body of case histories, most of them compiled between 1930 and 1960, before surgical intervention became rampant. Almost without exception, those reports describe children who grew up knowing they were intersexual (though they did not advertise it) and adjusted to their unusual status. Some of the studies are richly detailed-described at the


level of gym-class showering (which most intersexuals avoided without incident); in any event, there is not a psychotic or a suicide in the lot.

Still, the nuances of socialization among intersexuals cry out for more sophisticated analysis. Clearly, before my vision of sexual multiplicity can be realized, the first openly intersexual children and their parents will have to be brave pioneers who will bear the brunt of society's growing pains. But in the long view -though it could take generations to achieve -the prize might be a society in which sexuality is something to be
celebrated for its subtletites; and not something to be feared or ridiculed.



Title: THE FIVE SEXES, REVISITED
Source: Sciences, JuVAug2000, Vol. 40 Issue 4, pl8, 6p, lc, 2bw
Author(s): Fausto-Sterling, Anne
Abstract: Reports on the emergence ofintersexuals and the ambiguity of gender. Concept of intersexuality rooted in the ideas of being male and female; Reliance on case
management principles to treat intersexuality; Emergence of intersex activism; Treatment protocol for intersex infants.
AN: 3368034
ISSN: 0036-861X
Full Text Word Count: 3463
Database: Academic Search Elite




Section: Essays & Comment



THE FIVE SEXES, REVISITED
The emerging recognition that people come in bewildering sexual varieties is testing medical values and social norms

As Cheryl Chase stepped to the front of the packed meeting room in the Sheraton Boston Hotel, nervous coughs made the tension audible. Chase, an activist for intersexual rights, had been invited to address the May 2000 meeting of the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society (LWPES), the largest organization in the United States for specialists in children's hormones. Her talk would be the grand finale to a four-hour symposium on the treatment of genital ambiguity in newborns, infants born with a mixture of both male and female anatomy, or genitals that appear to differ from their chromosomal sex. The topic was hardly a novel one to the assembled physicians.

Yet Chase's appearance before the group was remarkable. Three and a half years earlier, the American Academy of Pediatrics had refused her request for a chance to present the patients' viewpoint on the treatment of genital ambiguity, dismissing Chase and her


picket line. The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) even issued a press release: "Hermaphrodites Target Kiddie Docs."

It had done my 1960s street-activist heart good. In the short run, I said to Chase at the time, the picketing would make people angry. But eventually, I assured her, the doors then closed would open. Now, as Chase began to address the physicians at their own convention, that prediction was coming true. Her talk, titled "Sexual Ambiguity: The Patient-Centered Approach," was a measured critique of the near-universal practice of performing immediate, "corrective" surgery on thousands of infants born each year with ambiguous genitalia. Chase herself lives with the consequences of such surgery. Yet her audience, the very endocrinologists and surgeons Chase was accusing of reacting with "surgery and shame," received her with respect. Even more remarkably, many of the speakers who preceded her at the session had already spoken of the need to scrap current
practices in favor of treatments more centered on psychological counseling.

What led to such a dramatic reversal of fortune? Certainly, Chase's talk at the LWPES
symposium was a vindication of her persistence in seeking attention for her cause. But her invitation to speak was also a watershed in the evolving discussion about how to treat children with ambiguous genitalia. And that discussion, in turn, is the tip of a biocultural iceberg--the gender iceberg--that continues to rock both medicine and our culture at
large.


Chase made her first national appearance in 1993, in these very pages, announcing the formation of ISNA in a letter responding to an essay I had written for The Sciences, titled "The Five Sexes" [March/Aprill993]. In that article I argued that the two-sex system embedded in our society is not adequate to encompass the full spectrum of human sexuality. In its place, I suggested a five-sex system. In addition to males and females, I included "herms" (named after true hermaphrodites, people born with both a testis and an ovary); "merms" (male pseudohermaphrodites, who are born with testes and some aspect of female genitalia); and "ferms" (female pseudohermaphrodites, who have ovaries combined with some aspect of male genitalia).

I had intended to be provocative, but I had also written with tongue firmly in cheek. So I was surprised by the extent of the controversy the article unleashed. Right-wing Christians were outraged, and connected my idea of five sexes with the United Nations- sponsored Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in September 1995. At the same time, the article delighted others who felt constrained by the current sex and gender system.

Clearly, I had struck a nerve. The fact that so many people could get riled up by my proposal to revamp our sex and gender system suggested that change--as well as resistance to it--might be in the offing. Indeed, a lot has changed since 1993, and I like to think that my article was an important stimulus. As if from nowhere, intersexuals are materializing before our very eyes. Like Chase, many have become political organizers, who lobby physicians and politicians to change current treatment practices. But more


generally, though perhaps no less provocatively, the boundaries separating masculine and feminine seem harder than ever to define.
Some find the changes under way deeply disturbing. Others find them liberating. Who is an intersexual--and how many intersexuals are there? The concept of
intersexuality is rooted in the very ideas of male and female. In the idealized, Platonic,
biological world, human beings are divided into two kinds: a perfectly dimorphic species. Males have an X and a Y chromosome, testes, a penis and all of the appropriate internal plumbing for delivering urine and semen to the outside world. They also have well known secondary sexual characteristics, including a muscular build and facial hair. Women have two X chromosomes, ovaries, all of the internal plumbing to transport urine and ova to the outside world, a system to support pregnancy and fetal development, as
well as a variety of recognizable secondary sexual characteristics.

That idealized story papers over many obvious caveats: some women have facial hair, some men have none; some women speak with deep voices, some men veritably squeak. Less well known is the fact that, on close inspection, absolute dimorphism disintegrates even at the level ofbasic biology. Chromosomes, hormones, the internal sex structures, the gonads and the external genitalia all vary more than most people realize. Those born outside of the Platonic dimorphic mold are called intersexuals.

In "The Five Sexes" I reported an estimate by a psychologist expert in the treatment of intersexuals, suggesting that some 4 percent of all live births are intersexual. Then, together with a group of Brown University undergraduates, I set out to conduct the first systematic assessment of the available data on intersexual birthrates. We scoured the medical literature for estimates of the frequency of various categories of intersexuality, from additional chromosomes to mixed gonads, hormones and genitalia. For some conditions we could find only anecdotal evidence; for most, however, numbers exist. On the basis of that evidence, we calculated that for every 1,000 children born, seventeen are intersexual in some form. That number--!.7 percent--is a ballpark estimate, not a precise count, though we believe it is more accurate than the 4 percent I reported.

Our figure represents all chromosomal, anatomical and hormonal exceptions to the dimorphic ideal; the number of intersexuals who might, potentially, be subject to surgery as infants is smaller--probably between one in I ,000 and one in 2,000 live births. Furthermore, because some populations possess the relevant genes at high frequency, the intersexual birthrate is not uniform throughout the world.

Consider, for instance, the gene for congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). When the CAH gene is inherited from both parents, it leads to a baby with masculinized external genitalia who possesses two X chromosomes and the internal reproductive organs of a potentially fertile woman. The frequency of the gene varies widely around the world: in New Zealand it occurs in only forty-three children per million; among the Yupik Eskimo of southwestern Alaska, its frequency is 3,500 per million.


Intersexuality has always been to some extent a matter of definition. And in the past century physicians have been the ones who defined children as intersexual--and provided the remedies. When only the chromosomes are unusual, but the external genitalia and gonads clearly indicate either a male or a female, physicians do not advocate intervention. Indeed, it is not clear what kind of intervention could be advocated in such cases. But the story is quite different when infants are born with mixed genitalia, or with external genitals that seem at odds with the baby's gonads. Most clinics now specializing in the treatment of intersex babies rely on case-management principles developed in the
1950s by the psychologist John Money and the psychiatrists Joan G. Hampson and John L. Hampson, all of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Money believed that gender identity is completely malleable for about eighteen months after birth. Thus, he argued, when a treatment team is presented with an infant who has ambiguous genitalia, the team could make a gender assigrnnent solely on the basis of what made the best surgical sense. The physicians could then simply encourage the parents to raise the child according to the surgically assigned gender. Following that course, most physicians maintained, would eliminate psychological distress for both the patient and the parents. Indeed, treatment teams were never to use such words as "intersex" or "hermaphrodite"; instead, they were to tell parents that nature intended the baby to be the boy or the girl
that the physicians had determined it was. Through surgery, the physicians were merely
completing nature's intention.

Although Money and the Harnpsons published detailed case studies of intersex children who they said had adjusted well to their gender assigrnnents, Money thought one case in particular proved his theory. It was a dramatic example, inasmuch as it did not involve intersexuality at all: one of a pair of identical twin boys lost his penis as a result of a circumcision accident. Money recommended that "John" (as he carne to be known in a later case study) be surgically turned into "Joan" and raised as a girL In time, Joan grew to love wearing dresses and having her hair done. Money proudly proclaimed the sex reassigrnnent a success.

But as recently chronicled by John Colapinto, in his book As Nature Made Him, Joan- now known to be an adult male named David Reimer--eventually rejected his female assigrnnent. Even without a functioning penis and testes (which had been removed as part of the reassigrnnent) John/Joan sought masculinizing medication, and married a woman with children (whom he adopted).

Since the full conclusion to the John/Joan story carne to light, other individuals who were reassigned as males or females shortly after birth but who later rejected their early assigrnnents have come forward. So, too, have cases in which the reassigrnnent has worked--at least into the subject's mid-twenties. But even then the aftermath of the surgery can be problematic. Genital surgery often leaves scars that reduce sexual sensitivity. Chase herself had a complete clitoridectomy, a procedure that is less frequently performed on intersexuals today. But the newer surgeries, which reduce the size of the clitoral shaft, still greatly reduce sensitivity.


The revelation of cases of failed Reassign-merits and the emergence of intersex activism have led an increasing number of pediatric endocrinologists, urologists and psychologists to reexamine the wisdom of early genital surgery. For example, in a talk that preceded Chase's at the LWPES meeting, the medical ethicist Laurence B. McCullough of the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, introduced an ethical framework for the treatment of children with ambiguous genitalia. Because sex phenotype (the manifestation of genetically and embryologically determined sexual characteristics) and gender presentation (the sex role projected by the individual in society) are highly variable, McCullough argues, the various forms of intersexuality should be defined as normal. All of them fall within the statistically expected variability of sex and gender. Furthermore, though certain disease states may accompany some forms of intersexuality, and may require medical intervention, intersexual conditions are not themselves diseases.

McCullough also contends that in the process of assigning gender, physicians should minimize what he calls irreversible assignments: taking steps such as the surgical removal or modification of gonads or genitalia that the patient may one day want to have reversed. Finally, McCullough urges physicians to abandon their practice of treating the birth of a child with genital ambiguity as a medical or social emergency. Instead, they should take the time to perform a thorough medical workup and should disclose everything to the parents, including the uncertainties about the final outcome. The treatment mantra, in other words, should be therapy, not surgery.

I believe a new treatment protocol for intersex infants, similar to the one outlined by McCullough, is close at hand. Treatment should combine some basic medical and ethical principles with a practical but less drastic approach to the birth of a mixed-sex child. As a first step, surgery on infants should be performed only to save the child's life or to substantially improve the child's physical well-being. Physicians may assign a sex--male or female--to an intersex infant on the basis of the probability that the child's particular condition will lead to the formation of a particular gender identity. At the same time, though, practitioners ought to be humble enough to recognize that as the child grows, he or she may reject the assignment--and they should be wise enough to listen to what the child has to say. Most important, parents should have access to the full range of information and options available to them.

Sex assignments made shortly after birth are only the beginning of a long journey. Consider, for instance, the life of Max Beck: Born intersexual, Max was surgically assigned as a female and consistently raised as such. Had her medical team followed her into her early twenties, they would have deemed her assignment a success because she was married to a man. (It should be noted that success in gender assignment has traditionally been defined as living in that gender as a heterosexual.) Within a few years, however, Beck had come out as a butch lesbian; now in her mid-thirties, Beck has become a man and married his lesbian partner, who (through the miracles of modern reproductive technology) recently gave birth to a girl.


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Transsexuals, people who have an emotional gender at odds with their physical sex, once described themselves in terms of dimorphic absolutes--males trapped in female bodies, or vice versa. As such, they sought psychological relief through surgery. Although many
still do, some so-called transgendered people today are content to inhabit a more
ambiguous zone. A male-to-female transsexual, for instance, may come out as a lesbian. Jane, born a physiological male, is now in her late thirties and living with her wife, whom she married when her name was still John. Jane takes hormones to feminize herself, but they have not yet interfered with her ability to engage in intercourse as a man. In her
mind Jane has a lesbian relationship with her wife, though she views their intimate
moments as a cross between lesbian and heterosexual sex.

It might seem natural to regard intersexuals and transgendered people as living midway between the poles of male and female. But male and female, masculine and feminine, cannot be parsed as some kind of continuum. Rather, sex and gender are best conceptualized as points in a multidimensional space. For some time, experts on gender development have distinguished between sex at the genetic level and at the cellular level (sex-specific gene expression, X andY chromosomes); at the hormonal level (in the fetus, during childhood and after puberty); and at the anatomical level (genitals and secondary sexual characteristics). Gender identity presumably emerges from all of those corporeal aspects via some poorly understood interaction with environment and
experience. What has become increasingly clear is that one can find levels of masculinity and femininity in almost every possible permutation. A chromosomal, hormonal and genital male (or female) may emerge with a female (or male) gender identity. Or a chromosomal female with male fetal hormones and masculinized genitalia--but with female pubertal hormones--may develop a female gender identity.

The Medical and Scientific Communities have yet to adopt a language that is capable of describing such diversity. In her book Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex, the historian and medical ethicist Alice Domurat Dreger of Michigan State University in East Lansing documents the emergence of current medical systems for classifYing gender ambiguity. The current usage remains rooted in the Victorian approach to sex. The
logical structure of the commonly used terms "true hermaphrodite," "male pseudohermaphrodite" and "female pseudohermaphrodite" indicates that only the so called true hermaphrodite is a genuine mix of male and female. The others, no matter how confusing their body parts, are really hidden males or females. Because true hermaphrodites are rare--possibly only one in 100,000--such a classification system supports the idea that human beings are an absolutely dimorphic species.

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, when the variability of gender seems so visible, such a position is hard to maintain. And here, too, the old medical consensus has begun to crumble. Last fall the pediatric urologist Ian A. Aaronson of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston organized the North American Task Force on Intersexuality (NATFI) to review the clinical responses to genital ambiguity in infants. Key medical associations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, have endorsed NATFI. Specialists in surgery, endocrinology, psychology, ethics, psychiatry, genetics and public
health, as well as intersex patient-advocate groups, have joined its ranks. 199


One of the goals ofNATFI is to establish a new sex nomenclature. One proposal under consideration replaces the current system with emotionally neutral terminology that emphasizes developmental processes rather than preconceived gender categories. For example, Type I intersexes develop out of anomalous virilizing influences; Type II result from some interruption of virilization; and in Type III intersexes the gonads themselves may not have developed in the expected fashion.

What is clear that since 1993, modem society has moved beyond five sexes to a recognition that gender variation is normal and, for some people, an arena for playful exploration. Discussing my "five sexes" proposal in her book Lessons from the Intersexed, the psychologist Suzanne J. Kessler of the State University of New York at Purchase drives this point home with great effect:

The limitation with Fausto-Sterling's proposal is that ... [it] still gives genitals ... primary signifying status and ignores the fact that in the everyday word gender attributions are made without access to genital inspection.... What has primacy in everyday life is the gender that is performed, regardless of the flesh's configuration under the clothes.

I now agree with Kessler's assessment. It would be better for intersexuals and their supporters to turn everyone's focus away from genitals. Instead, as she suggests, one should acknowledge that people come in an even wider assortment of sexual identities and characteristics than mere genitals can distinguish. Some women may have "large clitorises or fused labia," whereas some men may have "small penises or misshapen scrota," as Kessler puts it, "phenotypes with no particular clinical or identity meaning."

As clearheaded as Kessler's program is--and despite the progress made in the 1990s--our society is still far from that ideal. The intersexual or transgendered person who projects a social gender--what Kessler calls "cultural genitals"--that conflicts with his or her physical genitals still may die for the transgression. Hence legal protection for people whose cultural and physical genitals do not match is needed during the current transition to a more gender-diverse world. One easy step would be to eliminate the category of "gender" from official documents, such as driver's licenses and passports. Surely attributes both more visible (such as height, build and eye color) and Jess visible (fingerprints and genetic profiles) would be more expedient.

A more far-ranging agenda is presented in the International Bill of Gender Rights, adopted in 1995 at the fourth annual International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy in Houston, Texas. It lists ten "gender rights," including the right to define one's own gender, the right to change one's physical gender if one so chooses and the right to marry whomever one wishes. The legal bases for such rights are being hammered out in the courts as I write and, most recently, through the establishment, in the state of Vermont, of legal same-sex domestic partnerships.

No one could have foreseen such changes in 1993. And the idea that I played some role, however small, in reducing the pressure--from the medical community as well as from

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society at large--to flatten the diversity of human sexes into two diametrically opposed camps gives me-pleasure.

Sometimes people suggest to me, with not a little horror, that I am arguing for a pastel world in which androgyny reigns and men and women are boringly the same. In my vision, however, strong colors coexist with pastels. There are and will continue to be highly masculine people out there; it's just that some of them are women. And some of the most feminine people I know happen to be men.


A CONVERSATION WITH- Anne Fausto-Sterling; Exploring What Makes Us Male or
Female


On a recent frozen winter evening, Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling, 56, a professor of biology and women's studies at Brown, sat in a restaurant here, nibbling on a light snack and talking about her favorite subject: the application of ideas about gender roles to the formal study of biology.

In the academic world, Dr. Fausto-Sterling is known as a developmental biologist who offers interesting counterpoints to the view that the role division between men and women is largely predetermined by evolution.

Her 1985 book, "Myths of Gender: Biological Theories About Women and Men," is used in women's studies courses throughout the country. Dr. Fausto-Sterling's newest work, "Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality," is a look at societal ideas about gender as seen through the eyes of human beings defined as neither male or female-- hermaphrodites.

Q. What can we learn about gender from examining how the medical profession treats infants born with ambiguous genitalia? These are children who were once called "hermaphrodites," and whom you would prefer we term "intersexuals."
A. From them, we can literally see how society's ideas about male and female are constructed. When infants with ambiguous genitalia are born, everyone -- parents, doctors -- are very upset and the physicians often suggest drastic surgeries to assign a specific gender to the child. The regimen usually involves the doctors' deciding what sex the child ought to be. Then, they
surgically reconstruct the patient to conform to that diagnosis: body parts are taken out, others are

added, hormones are given, or taken away.



In the end, the doctors take a body that was clearly neither male or female and turn it into one they can represent to the world as "male" or "female."
Q. How did the fate of intersexual children become your passion?

A. In the early 1990's, I began looking into this because I was interested in a theoretical question that was circulating around feminist studies at that time; I wanted to know, What is meant when we say, "the body is a social construction?" At the time, social scientists were looking into how our ideas about the human body were shaped by politics and culture. That inquiry led me to a lot of the medical literature on intersexuality.
Q. How many people do you estimate are born intersexuals?

A. It depends on how you count. Working with Brown undergraduates, I did some research and we found that maybe 1 1/2 to 2 percent of all births do not fall strictly within the tight definition




















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of all-male or all-female, even if the child looks that way. Beyond having a mixed set of genitals, you could have an individual with an extra Y chromosome.

He'd still look like a standard male, but he'd have this extra chromosome. Or you could have someone who was XO, a female with underdeveloped ovaries, known medically as having Turner's Syndrome.

My point is that there's greater human variation than supposed. My political point is that we can afford to lighten up about what it means to be male or female. We should definitely lighten up on those who fall in between because there are a lot of them.



Q. You want a halt to sexual assignment surgeries on infants. Why?

A. People deserve to have a choice about something as important as that. Infants can't make choices. And the doctors often guess wrong. They might say, "We think this infant should be a female because the sexual organ it has is small." Then, they go and remove the penis and the testes. Years later, the kid says, "I'm a boy, and that's what I want to be, and I don't want to take estrogen, and by the way, give me back my penis." I feel we should let the kids tell us what they think is right once they are old enough to know. Till then, parents can talk to the kids in a way
that gives them permission to be different, they can give the child a gender neutral name, they can

do a provisional gender assignment. Of course, there are some cases where infants are born with life-threatening malformations. In those rare situations, surgery is called for.
Q. In "Sexing the Body," you suggest that estrogen and testosterone should not be termed sex hormones. You'd prefer we called them growth hormones. Why?
A. The molecules we call sex hormones affect our liver, our muscles, our bones, virtually every tissue in the body. In addition to their roles in our reproductive system, they affect growth and development throughout life. So to think of them as growth hormones, which they are, is to stop worrying that men have a lot of testosterone and women, estrogen.
Q. Among gay people, there is a tendency to embrace a genetic explanation of homosexuality. Why is that?
A. It's popular idea with gay men. Less so, with gay women. I think gay men also face a particularly difficult psychological situation because they are seen as embracing something hated in our culture -- the feminine -- and so they'd better come up with a good reason for what they are doing.

































































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Gay women, on the other hand, are seen as, rightly or wrongly, embracing something our culture values highly -- masculinity. Now that whole analysis that gay men are feminine and gay women are masculine, is itself open to big question, but it provides a cop-out and an area of relief. You know, "It's not my fault, you have to love me anyway."

It provides the disapproving relatives with an excuse: "It's not my fault, I didn't raise 'em wrong." It provides a legal argument that is, at the moment, actually having some sway in court. For me, it's a very shaky place. It's bad science and bad politics. It seems to me that the way we consider homosexuality in our culture is an ethical and a moral question.

The biology here is poorly understood. The best controlled studies performed to measure genetic contributions to homosexuality say that 50 percent of what goes into making a person homosexual is genetic. That means 50 percent is not. And while everyone is very excited about genes, we are clueless about the equally important nongenetic contributions.
Q. Why do you suppose lesbians have been less accepting than gay men about genetics as
the explanation for homosexuality.
A. I think most lesbians have more of a sense of the cultural component in making us who we are. If you look at many lesbians' life histories, you will often find extensive heterosexual experiences. They often feel they've made a choice. I also think lesbians face something that males don't: at the end of the day, they still have to be women in a world run by men. All of that makes them very conscious of complexity.
Q. How much of your thinking about sexual plasticity comes from your own life? You've
been married. You are now in a committed relationship with the playwright Paula Vogel. A. My interest in gender issues preceded my own life changes. When I first got involved in feminism, I was married. The gender issues did to me what they did to lots of women in the 1970's: they infuriated me. My poor husband, who was a very decent guy, tried as hard as he could to be sympathetic. But he was shut out of what I was doing. The women's movement opened up the feminine in a way that was new to me, and so my involvement made possible my becoming a lesbian. My ex and I are still friends. He's remarried.
Q. So the antifeminists are right: women's liberation is the first step toward lesbianism? A. (Laughs) It's true. I call myself a lesbian now because that is the life I am living, and I think it is something you should own up to. At the moment, I am in a happy relationship and I don't ever imagine changing it. Still, I don't think loving a man is unimaginable.
Q. What do you think nature is telling us by making intersexuals?


A. That nature is not an ideal state. It is filled with imperfections and developmental variation. We have all these Aristotelian categories of male and female. Nature doesn't have them. Nature creates a whole lot of different forms.

The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough

By Anne Fausto-Sterling

The Sciences March!Aprill993, p. 20-24

Anne Fausto-Sterling is Professor of Biology and Women's Studies in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Biochemistry at Brown University. Professor Fausto Sterling's new book, entitled Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality, appeared in February, 2000.

In 1843 Levi Suydam, a twenty-three-year-old resident of Salisbury, Connecticut, asked the town board of selectmen to validate his right to vote as a Whig in a hotly contested local election. The request raised a flurry of objections from the opposition party, for reasons that must be rare in L'le at1.. .1.ais of A.tu.erican democracy: it was said that Suydam was more female than male and thus (some eighty years before suffrage was extended to women) could not be allowed to cast a ballot. To settle the dispute a physician, one William James Barry, was brought in to examine Suydam. And, presumably upon encountering a phallus, the good doctor declared the prospective voter male. With Suydam safely in their column the Whigs won the election by a majority of one.

Barry's diagnosis, however, turned out to be somewhat premature. Within a few days he discovered that, phallus notwithstanding, Suydam menstruated regularly and had a vaginal opening. Both his/her physique and his/her mental predispositions were more complex than was first suspected. S/he had narrow shoulders and broad hips and felt occasional sexual yearnings for women. Suydam's '"feminine propensities, such as a fondness for gay colors, for pieces of calico, comparing and placing them together, and an aversion for bodily labor, and an inability to perform the same, were remarked by many," Barry later wrote. It is not clear whether Suydam lost or retained the vote, or whether the election results were reversed.

Western culture is deeply committed to the idea that there are only two sexes. Even language refuses other possibilities; thus to write about Levi Suydam I have had to invent conventions-slhe and his/her-to denote someone who is clearly neither male nor female or who is perhaps both sexes at once. Legally, too, every adult is either man or woman, and the difference, of course, is not trivial. For Suydam it meant the franchise; today it means being available for, or exempt from, draft registration, as well as being subject, in various ways, to a number oflaws governing marriage, the family and human intimacy. In many parts of the United States, for instance, two people legally registered
as men cannot have sexual relations without violating anti-sodomy statutes.

187

But if the state and the legal system have an interest in maintaining a two-party sexual system, they are in defiance of nature. For biologically speaking, there are many gradations running from female to male; and depending on how one calls the shots, one can argue that along that spectrum lie at least five sexes-and perhaps even more.

For some time medical investigators have recognized the concept of the intersexual body. But the standard medical literature uses the term i
...The documentary explores the issue of gender and sex, beginning with transgender women dancing at a nightclub. The murder of Gwen Araujo, a teenage transwoman is described in detail by the narrator. Several acquaintances had killed her after finding out that Gwen was born male because two of them had had sexual relations with her.
Two transwomen, Calpernia Addams and Andrea James, speak about the members of their community being brutally murdered for being transgender. Addams then tells the audience about her boyfriend, Barry Winchell, who was harassed and eventually murdered by a fellow soldier for dating a transsexual woman. James talks about her life as a lesbian transgender woman.
How sex is developed in the womb is explained by the narrator and James Pfaus, a professor at Concordia University. More about how sex develops is discussed between each of the stories.
Max Beck, an Intersex person, tells the story of how he was born with ambiguous genitalia and then assigned female at birth. He was raised with many operations for which he did not know the reason until he found out that he was classified as a male pseudohermaphrodite at birth. He eventually transitioned to using the name Max and male pronouns, but still identifies as more an intersex person then a man. Max now is married with a daughter.
The next story told is about the intersex condition of Maria José Martínez-Patiño, a former Olympic hurdler, who was banned from competition after a test showed her to have XY (male) chromosomes. She eventually won her medals back and was allowed to compete as a woman after a long legal battle. There are no more chromosome tests in the Olympic Games, however, gender verification in sports remains contentious.
Next, eight-year-old Noah is introduced. Noah is biologically male and living as boy, but prefers things that are typically for girls. His father, mother, and step-father all share their concerns for Noah's future in their small midwestern town.
In a Dutch institute of brain research, they are trying to learn about the differences between sex and gender. They found differences in the brains of transsexuals from cisgender people of their birth sex.
The documentary then looks at different treatment of gender-variant and people of different sexualities across cultures and history.
In India, older teenage boys dance at weddings in a way that might get them labelled as homosexuals, and sometimes have sex, at other times. An Indian man, Vijay, and his wife are introduced. The fact that Vijay lives a double life with a male partner of twelve years is revealed. Vijay's wife doesn't know about this, and he feels guilty because he was forced into an arranged marriage. But in the Hindu religion, it was once consider natural to have a different sexuality until British colonization. India still have Hijra (South Asia), a group of people who are a type of third gender. They go through a now-illegal operation to remove their male genitalia.
In Bangkok, Thailand the audience meets a transsexual model who will be getting married soon. In Buddhism, it is believed everyone will be a transgender person at one point because they believe in reincarnation. More Thai transgender woman, called Kathoey, are introduced. One is in a relationship with a Texan man who was married and had children. The girl in her early twenties must support her mother and grandmother because her father is dead.
A story is told of heterosexual college men who were shown gay pornography. Their physical response was measured. Men who were considered homophobes were more aroused, but claimed they had no reaction. This then goes back to Gwen Araujo, who was killed by two men who were insecure about their sexualities because they had sexual relations with her. All of this supports the theory that people are more likely to get angry at sex, gender, and sexuality differences because they are insecure about their own sexuality or gender identity.
...In Paisley Currah's Gender Pluralisms Under the Transgender Umbrella, ensconced in his historic Transgender Rights anthology, the two cases of schoolchildren he cites to give examples of case law bearing on trans people illustrate the arbitrariness and the types of appeals that are often required of trans people in order to obtain civil rights. As Currah points out, litigant Pat Doe's legal team was able to convince a judge that she should be allowed to wear "girls" clothes at her primary school because she was, in fact, a girl and could 'prove' this through an appeal to Gender Identity Disorder. Nikki Youngblood's case centered on the fact that she as a young woman wanted to appear in her high school yearbook wearing a shirt and necktie, an outfit prescribed only for boys. But her sex discrimination appeal was denied by the courts.
Currah argues that these two court cases show the fundamental difference between two particular types of appeal: one to fixed and innate identity, and one to choice. He argues, largely correctly, that appeals to free choice are legally unintelligible and that rights claims must be predicated on fixed categories of identity that a court can objectively identify and elect to protect. However, I would argue- similarly referencing case law- that like so much else in the meting out of legally sanctioned, protected gender, these rulings are arbitrary.
Later in this same volume, Professor Kylar Broadus, a trans man who himself fought a discrimination case against State Farm and lost, quotes fairly recent case law that was- surprisingly- not brought to bear in the defence of Ms. Youngblood. In the 1980s Ann Hopkins was denied a partnership in her accounting firm, the famed Price Waterhouse Cooper, because everything about her was deemed insufficiently feminine. Like Ms. Youngblood in her refusal to wear a feminine, revealing drape for her yearbook photo, Ms. Hopkins abjured most of the stereotypical trappings of Western femininity. She was told by her bosses that if she wanted a partnership she would do well to "walk more femininely, talk more femininely, dress more femininely, wear make-up, have [your] hair styled, and wear jewellery."
However, the Supreme Court ruled that the Title VII anti sex-discrimination provisions did indeed protect Ms. Hopkins from what activists would call 'gender policing.' It did indeed prohibit employers and other institutions from acting as enforcers of normative gender. Thus Ms. Hopkins was protected by the law and had suffered sex discrimination: because she was a woman who was acting in a way her bosses felt women should not act, and because they made a executive decision based solely on that ideological belief, she was the victim of discriminatory practise for which she was entitled to redress.
As with many cases regarding gender, it simply depends on which judge is assigned to hear one's case.
Broadus shows that despite using Hopkins v. Price Waterhouse as part of his defence, he was denied simply because "in Price Waterhouse the plaintiff was not a transsexual"- an eerie echo of Ulane v. Eastern Airlines when Karen Ulane's challenge to her firing was shot down by a court because she was "transsexual and not a woman." It seems, at first blush, (despite Ms. Youngblood's loss) that the sex discrimination title exists only for cis people; trans people constitute a third category of person outside the law and beyond its purview or protection. But Broadus goes on to argue that in more recent years, courts have been making that distinction less and less.
In 2001 the First Circuit court ruled, in Rosa v. Park W. Bank & Trust Co. that a male dressed in "traditionally feminine attire" could seek redress under Price Waterhouse for discrimination if it could be shown that the discriminatory act arose from the fact that his "attire did not accord with his male gender." That same year, the Ninth Circuit Court drew on Price Waterhouse to rule in favour of Crystal Schwenk, a trans woman who was suing under the Gender Motivated Violence Act for being assaulted by a prison guard. When the guard appealed the Ninth Circuit ruled against him saying:
"The initial judicial approach taken older cases... has been overruled by the logic and language of Price Waterhouse. In Price Waterhouse,... the Supreme Court held that Title VII barred not just discrimination based on the fact that Hopkins was a woman, but also discrimination based on the fact that she failed to 'act like a woman'- that is, to conform to socially-constructed gender expectations... The evidence offered by Schwenk tends to show that the Defendant's actions were motivated, at least in part, by Schwenk's gender- in this case, by her assumption of a feminine rather than a typically masculine appearance or demeanour."
Professor Broadus quotes several more cases in the US and Europe adhering to a similar logic. The lesson to be deduced from this seeming trend, however, is precisely that the specific discourse surrounding sex and gender changes from year to year and for more or less arbitrary reasons. The logic of courts like the Ninth Circuit is assuredly sound, but it rests on a willingness to accept the belief that discrimination based on gender identity is wrong. They illuminate the possibility of winning cases on the basis of preventing institutions from policing gender norms.
Intersectionality is a concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another.
Intersectionality - Geek Feminism Wiki - Wikia
geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Intersectionality
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Crenshaw mentioned that the intersectionality experience within black women is more powerful than the sum of their race and sex, that any observations that do not take intersectionality into consideration cannot accurately address the manner in which black women are subordinated. Wikipedia
Explore: Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw
Feminists argue that an understanding of intersectionality is a vital element to gaining political and social equality and improving our democratic system. Wikipedia
Explore: Feminism
Contemporary feminist theory addresses such issues of intersectionality in such publications as ``Age, Race, Sex, and Class'' by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw. Wikipedia
Explore: Feminist theory, Kimberlé Williams CrenshawAccording to Collins, race, class and gender are "interlocking categories of analysis that together cultivate profound differences in our personal biographies." Using the three levels of oppression, provide examples to help explain how they operate.

Collins' article, entitled, "Toward a New Vision: Race, Class, and Gender as Categories of Analysis and Connection," takes a different approach to the subject matter in that it does not necessarily conduct new research but rather looks at how oppression affects people. Collins looks at the three main dimensions of how oppression affects people within society, with those being, the "institutional, the symbolic and the individual." Social institutions such as schools, businesses, hospitals, the workplace and government represent the institutional dimension of oppression. Racism, sexism and elitism all have concrete institutional locations. In her article, Collins uses the issue of slavery as an example. Although slavery is analyzed as a racist institution, Collins thinks that slavery was a race, class and gender institution. However, the institutional oppression can be seen anywhere we go. In our schools for example; unfortunately, elite white men are over-represented among the upper administrators. They are all joined by white women as helpers. In most situations, who are the people that take care of the cleaning in school, bringing the mail or fixing the leaky pipes? Even in a workplace, Hispanic or African Americans are more often the people staying after normal work hours and cleaning up the workplaces. Our environment is just a modern plantation.

As this article suggests, and as we have observed in everyday life we have a symbolic dimension of oppression which is also known as stereotyping of genders, races, etc. When you hear the words "masculine" and "feminine," almost any group will list similar qualities that come to mind to the qualities that Collins noted...


Proceedings: Closing Plenary: Eli Clare

I was scheduled, along with Diana Courvant, to speak at the closing plenary of the Queerness and Disability conference. That session turned into a townhall meeting about racism and the specific oppression of people with psych disabilities. People of color and people with psych disabilities challenged the gathering in fundamental and necessary ways. Diana and I facilitated the meeting but didn't keynote. A number of people asked us if we would put our keynotes on the web. So what follows is the text of a speech I might have given but didn't. I wrote it in the weeks following the conference, using the extensive outline I had brought with me to the event. I intentionally tried to re-create the immediacy of those two days as they wound down.

--Eli Clare

Sex, Celebration, and Justice: A Keynote for QD2002

Hello. What a wild, intense ride it has been. For months now I've been pondering what I would say here this afternoon. What there would be left to say after the last two days of talk about sex and relationships, physician assisted suicide and Not Dead Yet, the pathologizing of bodies and the connections between intersex and disability organizing, getting the care we need and coming out, street activism and legal strategy, theory and performance, stories and painting. We've laughed and cried and danced and raged. We've asked questions, listened hard, faced necessary challenges.

And yet I sit here also knowing how much has gone missing. We could start again right here, right now, and do another two days and never repeat a single idea, question, or connection and still be going strong. There is that much among us. This plenty excites me. At the same time, what has been left out of the past two days is important, telling, profound, and needs acknowledgement.

This gathering has been very white and for the most part has neglected issues of race and racism. All of us here in this room today need to listen to queer disabled people of color and their experiences. We need to fit race and racism into the matrix of queerness and disability. I need to ask myself, not only "What does it mean to be a pansexual tranny with a long butch dyke history, a walkie with a disability that I acquired at birth," but also, "What does it mean to be a white queer crip?"

We haven't asked enough questions about class, about the experiences of being poor and disabled, of struggling with hunger, homelessness, and a lack of the most basic healthcare. I want to hear from working class folks who learned about disability from bone-breaking work in the factory or mine or sweatshop.

We need more exploration of gender identity and disability. How do the two inform each other? I can feel the sparks fly as disabled trans people are just beginning to find each other. We need to listen more to Deaf culture, to people with psych disabilities, cognitive disability, to young people and old people. We need not to re-create here in this space, in this budding community, the hierarchies that exist in other disability communities, other queer communities.

Naming these absences isn't meant to accuse or undercut the strength and power of the past two days, but rather to suggest the complexity and breadth of work we have to do as we begin to come together as queer crips, friends, lovers, partners, and allies.

So, with all that has been said and all that hasn't, all the connection and all the challenge, what am I going to leave you with? It's an awesome thing to sit up here in front of this room and look out at all your shining faces and know that soon we'll each be going home. To get some much needed sleep. To think about and feel what's happened here. To tell friends and family. Taking this experience with us into our worlds. Being up here on stage right now gives me the magnificent and overwhelming opportunity to tell you what I'd like you to take home.

***

First, a challenge about sex. And when I say sex, I don't mean a code for queerness. You know. When those straight, well-meaning disability studies profs ask me ever so politely to come to their school and talk about disability and sexuality, they aren't requesting a presentation about heterosexuality, much less the whole universe of sexual possibility. Rather they mean that other sexuality, that exotic sexuality, that queer sexuality. Or I get asked by nondisabled queer activists to be part of panels about sexuality and disability. I never know if they're really serious about doing anti-ableism education or if truly they just want another believe-it-or-not freak show, a tell-all about what crips do in bed. And guess what: this butch top, used-to-be-stone, still-dealing-with-the-aftershocks-of-incest crip isn't interested in being part of a freak show. I have no desire to tell them how I can **** long and slow with my shaky right hand if only I can keep my muscles from locking with tension. No desire to tell them what my lover asks for and what I will do.

But here in this room when I say sex, I'm not talking code. Rather, I mean the steamy, complex, erotic, sometimes pleasure filled, sometimes mundane, sometimes mystical, sometimes painful, sometimes confusing behaviors, activities, and fantasies we call sex. It's a radical act, a daring act, a brand new act for queer crips to talk about sex.

On one hand, as queers, we are perverse, immoral, depraved, shaped as oversexed child molesters or as invisible creatures, legislated out of existence. And on the other, as crips, we are entirely desexualized or fetishized or viewed as incapable of sexual responsibility. What a confounding maze of lies and stereotypes! We are the wheelchair using fag quad who can't find a date; the bi woman amputee sought after, pursued, even sometimes stalked, by devotees—those mostly straight men who fetishize amputations; the cognitively disabled dyke who is told in so many ways that she's simply a sexual risk to herself and the world. Never are we seen, heard, believed to be the creators of our own desires, our own passions, our own sexual selves. Inside this maze, the lives of queer crips truly disappear. And I say it's time for us to reappear. Time for us to talk sex, be sex, wear sex, relish our sex, both the sex we do have and the sex we want to be having.

I say it's time for some queer disability erotica, time for an anthology of crip smut, queer style. Time for us to write, film, perform, read, talk porn. I'm serious. It's time. I want to get hot and bothered: I want to read about wheelchairs and limps, hands that bend at odd angles and bodies that negotiate unchosen pain, about orgasms that aren't necessarily about our genitals, about sex and pleasure stolen in nursing homes and back rooms where we've been abandoned, about bodily—and I mean to include the mind as part of the body—differences so plentiful they can't be counted, about ****ing that embraces all those differences. It's time. I want to watch smut made by and for queer disabled people and our lovers, friends, allies, our experiences told from the inside out. I want plain old rutting, delicious one night affairs, but please don't leave out the chivalrous romance. Let's face it: I want it all. It's time. I want us to turn the freak show on its head, to turn away from the folks who gawk and pity us, who study and patronize us, who ignore us or fetishize us. I want us to forget the rubes and remember each other as we declare and create our sexualities. It's time. In the past several years, there's been an outpouring of identity-based erotica anthologies. On my bookshelves, you can find Best Transgender Erotica, Bearotica, and Zaftig: Well Rounded Erotica, all fiercely asserting the sexuality of people whose sexualities have been marginalized. And now it's time for queer crips to join this line up, time for tantalizing tales about queer crip sex. And if we don't write them, then who?

***

But that's not all. Here's a second thing I want us to take home, a thing bigger than queer crip sex, a thing about celebrating our queerness, our differences in all their complexity. I want us to tell stories, to talk about our bodies, to be real about our shame and our pride. We're good at talking about oppression and how disability is truly about the material and social conditions of ableism—not about our paralysis but rather about the stairs without an accompanying ramp, not about our blindness but rather about the lack of Braille, not about our depression or anxiety but rather about a whole host of stereotypes—as if our bodily experiences of bone and muscle, tendon and ligament, are somehow irrelevant. We're good at carving out our space as queer by naming ourselves as dyke, fag, bi, tranny, and then defining and defending those identities, as if a single word could name the entirety of our queer bodily desires. We're good at saying the word pride, as if shame has nothing to do with it. And I'm glad we've become good at those things, but let us not stop talking about our bodies, about the messiness and contradictions.

It's risky work, particularly in a world that gawks and taunts, moralizes and pities, medicalizes and condemns, in a world that demands an explanation at every turn, in a world where complete strangers feel free to ask, "What's your defect?" But I want us to take that risk, not to feed the pity machine, the super-crip machine, the you're-so-perverted machine, but to celebrate our bodies and create them as ordinary and familiar.

So let me start by telling you three stories to bring my right arm, my skin, my buzzed hair and broad stance into this room.

My crip body. I spent years hating my right arm, hating the tremors that start behind my shoulder blade, race down that track of muscles from shoulder to bicep, forearm to fingertip, hating the tension that follows behind to clamp the shaking, hating that I couldn't will either away. I never talked about the red hot pain that wraps around the tension. Never talked about how being touched can make the tremors worse. Never talked about my yearning to play the piano or fiddle, hammer a nail, fling my body into the powerful grace of a gymnast, rock climber, dancer. I wanted to cut my right arm off, ream the tremors out of me, my shame that vivid.

And still today I have to work not to hide my right hand, tuck it beneath my body, pull the tremors into me, let no one else feel them. Work to remember that my lover means it when he says, "I can't get enough of your shaky touch." Work to love my right arm, my trembling. My body, not pitiful but ordinary.

My white body. The only person of color in my childhood home—a backwoods logging town in Oregon—was an African-American kid, adopted into a white family. I grew up to persistent rumors of a lynching tree way back in the hills, of the county sheriff running people of color and fags out of town. I grew up among working-class white men who made their livings by clearcutting the steep slopes, not so long ago stolen from the Tunis, the Umpquas, the Coquille peoples. Grew up among white men disabled by the body breaking work of logging—missing limbs, hearing loss, nerve damage, broken bones knitted back together crooked. Grew up surrounded by disability and whiteness never spoken.

For a long time after moving to the city, college scholarship in hand, all I could do was gawk at the multitude of humans: Black people, Chinese people, Chicanos, drag queens and punks, vets down on Burnside Avenue, white men in their wool suits, limos shined to sparkle. I watched them all, sucking in the thick weave of Spanish, Cantonese, street talk, English. This is how I became aware of being white. My body threaded with unspoken privilege.

My tranny body. Not so long ago, a woman stopped me on the street. She wanted to know, "You a boy?" I said, "Nope." Who knows why I answered that way; it would have been simpler to say, "Yup," and closer to the truth. She responded, "You a girl?" looking truly puzzled. I left quickly. There is no short answer.

I learned about my gendered body flying kites in the hayfields and sheep pastures, digging fence-post holes and hauling firewood with my father. He raised me, his eldest daughter, as an almost son. I had no desire to be a girl but knew I wasn't a boy. My body never learned to walk in high heels—what a joke my few attempts were, trying to fit my broad stance and shaky-heeled gait into those shoes. Never learned to feel strong and comfortable, much less sexy, in a skirt. Never stopped feeling at home in my work boots and flannel shirts, my butchness shaped by those white loggers I grew up among, overlaid by a queer urban sensibility.

Not man, not woman: I don't have one word answers for my gendered body, just stories. Learning to knot a tie and look in the mirror at age 32. Being cruised by bears on the Castro, feeling my skin flush warm. Finding pleasure and trouble as my boyfriend and I hold hands on the subway, harassed as fags, even though later that night I'll be called ma'am at the restaurant. Using the men's room often enough to know the etiquette, often choosing to brave a full bladder, rather than risk the women's room. I can only tell my gender in stories. My body, not perverse, but familiar.

Stories about our bodies tangle sexuality, race, gender, class, and disability together. Some theorists and activists seem to like the notion of double (or triple or quadruple) identity, suggesting that our marginalized identities stack up in some quantifiable way. As if I could peel off my queerness, leaving my CP, or peel off the disability, leaving my whiteness, or peel off my white skin privilege, leaving my rural, working-class roots. Or they talk about double oppression, often creating a hierarchy among different kinds of discrimination. As if any of us can tell what the gawkers are gawking at. Are they trying to figure out whether I'm a woman or a man, dyke or fag, why I walk with a shake, talk with a slur, or are they just admiring my polished boots and denim jacket? I'll never know.

Our bodies as ordinary and familiar: this idea flies in the face of the gawkers and bashers who try to shape us as inspirational and heroic, tragic and pitiful, perverse and unnatural. We don't get to simply be ordinary and familiar very often. And when it does happen, it is such a relief, so rare and wonderful. Don't mistake me: I don't mean that we need to find normal and make it our own. Normal—that center against which everyone of us is judged and compared: in truth I want us to smash it to smitherines. And in its place, celebrate our irrevocably different bodies, our queerness, our crip lives, telling stories and creating for ourselves an abiding sense of the ordinary and familiar.

***

And finally there's a third thing I want us to take home, bigger than queer crip sex, bigger than resisting normal and celebrating our bodies, a thing about living in this world as we build community. When September 11th happened, I was already immersed in the work of organizing this conference. In the days and weeks following the hijackings as I processed waves of grief, shock, fear, and outrage at U.S. imperialism, as U.S. bombs started to rain on Afghanistan, I asked myself repeatedly, "Why am I choosing to do this queer disability work rather than peace work?" Why I asked as the bombs continued to fall, as civil liberties here in the U.S. tightened, as Arabs, Arab Americans, and Muslims were—and still today are being—harassed and detained.

Why I asked, and friends reminded me about the phrase "peace and justice." Why I asked and remembered how war and disability are tangled together, how veterans helped create disability rights activism. Why I asked and every day heard spiritual leaders and political leaders, war mongers and peace activists alike, refer to disability. They said, "An eye for an eye will make the world blind," disability becoming a metaphor for the consequences of revenge. They said, "These attacks crippled Wall Street," assuming without question that crippled equals broken. They said, "The leader of the Taliban, that one-eyed Mullah," using disability as a marker of evil. Not once did I hear about the real lived experience of disability as the World Trade Center collapsed, as bombs fell and landmines exploded. I wanted to go to a peace rally with a placard that said, "Another cripple for peace," or "Imperialist revenge is corrupt, not blind." I stopped asking why, started to understand yet again how, even at a time of escalating military violence, queer disability work is in truth justice work.

Justice is a big word. It means food and houses and jobs and health care and education. It means art that tells untold stories bald-faced and art that turns an image, a metaphor, into pure revelatory magic. It means coming to fill our bodies to the very edges of our skin. It means theory that teases new thinking out of our brains and theory that helps refigure the world. It means hate won't reign like bombs and hunger, house fires and baseball bats, Jerry Lewis's telethon and the locked doors of nursing homes and pysch wards. It means liberation and challenge and compassion. Justice is a big word.

I want us to cruise justice, flirt with it, take it home with us, nurture and feed it, even though sometimes it will be demanding and uncomfortable and ask us to change. Clearly I'm not talking about a simple one night stand but a commitment for the long haul.

Sex, celebration of our queer crip bodies, and a commitment to justice: that's all I'm asking for as we head back to our homes. In the end, let us to turn the world to a place where, to quote the poet Mary Oliver:

". . . each life [is] a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage and something
precious to the earth."

Thank you.
Lorde set out to confront issues of racism in feminist thought. She maintained that a great deal of the scholarship of white feminists served to augment the oppression of black women, a conviction that led to angry confrontation, most notably in a blunt open letter addressed to the fellow radical lesbian feminist Mary Daly, to which Lorde claimed she received no reply.[32] Daly's reply letter to Lorde,[33] dated 4½ months later, was found in 2003 in Lorde's files after she died.[34]
This fervent disagreement with notable white feminists furthered Lorde's persona as an outsider: "In the institutional milieu of black feminist and black lesbian feminist scholars [...] and within the context of conferences sponsored by white feminist academics, Lorde stood out as an angry, accusatory, isolated black feminist lesbian voice".[35]
The criticism was not one-sided: many white feminists were angered by Lorde's brand of feminism. In her 1984 essay "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House,"[36] Lorde attacked underlying racism within feminism, describing it as unrecognized dependence on the patriarchy. She argued that, by denying difference in the category of women, white feminists merely furthered old systems of oppression and that, in so doing, they were preventing any real, lasting change. Her argument aligned white feminists who did not recognize race as a feminist issue with white male slave-masters, describing both as "agents of oppression."[37]

In an early criticism of the feminist movement, Audre Lorde gave an address called, "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House," at a Second Sex Conference in New York in 1979. In it, she addressed the sad shape of the feminist movement, given that minority experiences were rarely, if ever, taken into account. She argues that white feminists are using the same tactics of patriarchy to oppress women that identify with minority groups, like blacks, lesbians, and poor women.

She says that, "For women, the need and desire to nurture each other is not pathological but redemptive, and it is within that knowledge that our real power is rediscovered. It is this real connection which is so feared by a patriarchal world" (2898). She recognizes that feminism, as of 1979, had done little to address the separations and schisms within the movement, which only perpetuated the dominance of patriarchy. She argued that, "the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house," and that only if feminists "learn how to take our differences and make them strengths" that true equality will be achieved (2899).