Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Breaking out of the male-female binary

There are about 65,000 children born each year that have indeterminate sex, and go through surgeries to alter their genitalia so they fit with a specific sex and gender. The measurements and characteristics that determine which side of the sex binary the child falls on are socially constructed.

Gerald Callahan, a professor at Colorado State University, has recently published a book about intersex individuals called Between XX and XY. While I haven't had a chance to read it, I thought that I would just put it out there for anyone who was interested. According to the Salon piece, Callahan challenges the idea that we are either male or female.

While retelling the stories of the intersex individuals he spoke with, he argues that we all exist in between male and female. Something that he said in the interview that I thought was really interesting was, "We might say two people have brown eyes but that doesn't mean that they're brown in exactly the same way, or what is seen through those eyes is the same."

Each person lives an unique life that is influenced by their experiences, and I don't think anyone should be boxed in by a name or a category, like male or female, that does not even reflect the wide spectrum of people there are in the world. The stories and experiences of intersex individuals are important and are something that should be celebrated and explored.

P.S. Lizz informed me that Middlesex is going to be made into "some sort of media thing" and, it's a HBO series, in case you're interested!


Danielle said...

Already heard about the Swedish couple raising a gender-neutral child?


I think it's a cool idea, and have thought so since I was a kid. BF disagrees.

Lauren said...

Middlesex--a fantastic novel.

Jenna said...

I strongly reccomend middlesex