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Fixing Sex: Intersex, Medical Authority, and Lived Experience Paperback – November 14, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0822343189 ISBN-10: 0822343185 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books; 1 edition (November 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822343185
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822343189
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #364,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Fixing Sex is the best book I have ever read over the years which deals with the ethical issues which have plagued the intersex community, parents and doctors. One reason is that it is meticulously researched and in the introduction, the author helps the reader understand her methodology and also makes it transparent and easy to grasp for the reader who is not familiar with such research. . . . Katrina Karkazis has written a book that both I (an intersex activist) and a medical doctor can read and understand and not be upset about. Now that is a tour de force."

Review

"Fixing Sex is the best book I have ever read over the years which deals with the ethical issues which have plagued the intersex community, parents and doctors. One reason is that it is meticulously researched and in the introduction, the author helps the reader understand her methodology and also makes it transparent and easy to grasp for the reader who is not familiar with such research. . . . Katrina Karkazis has written a book that both I (an intersex activist) and a medical doctor can read and understand and not be upset about. Now that is a tour de force."

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Curtis E. Hinkle on December 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
Fixing Sex is the best book I have ever read over the years which deals with the ethical issues which have plagued the intersex community, parents and doctors. One reason is that it is meticulously researched and in the introduction, the author helps the reader understand her methodology and also makes it transparent and easy to grasp for the reader who is not familiar with such research.

The author is also very accurate about the medical aspects of various intersex conditions (something that often was not true with previous books by researchers dealing with the ethical debate, unfortunately.) However, the main reason I feel the book is a success is that is shows respect for ALL stakeholders, something which has thus far not been the case and this will help in the future I hope in such a way that not just the parents and doctors will be able to have a dialog, but actual intersex adults also will be more likely to be included.

She has done something that is very difficult to do. Katrina Karkazis has written a book that both I (an intersex activist) and a medical doctor can read and understand and not be upset about. Now that is a tour de force.

Curtis E. Hinkle
Founder, Organisation Intersex International
[...]
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gina R. Morvay on February 12, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Katrina Karkazis' Fixing Sex is an ambitious attempt to deal with the multiple issues brought up by those born with Intersex Conditions (I'm going to use that term over DSDs) their parents and the doctors who 'treated' them. She comes clearly down on the side against performing 'normalising' procedures on infants often by performing surgery on larger than average clitorises (in some cases, performing actual clitorodectomies) or reassigning xy children with micropenises as female. She points out how doctors are slowly reevaluating how these procedures are done (or whether they're done) but are still highly defensive about the medical decisions they're made and, especially, about the harm they've caused.

For those following the Intersex community and their often heartbreaking stories, the book can be painful to read. But Ms. Karkazis tries to present the material not as an advocate, but as a medical ethicist and she succeeds brilliantly in shining much light on a lot of dark histories than are still threatening to all involved. It's in dealing with these bioethical questions the book finds its greatest success. She balances the choices parents and doctors made for infants with the anger and helplessness of those children who had to actually live with those decisions. She also points out how adherence to 'normality' and the gender binary had everything to do with many of these (often for the worse) life-altering decisions.

There are some parts of the discussion I wished the book had keyed into with more detail and first person narratives. She talks to almost no one who was gender reassigned, either those still living in their assigned gender nor those who were uncomfortable in their assigned gender and later transitioned back.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dr Mew on April 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let me first note that I'm an intersex person who tends to read whatever I can find on the topic. Over the past decade, there has been a modest burst of publishing on intersex status (or what the medical field now terms "DSDs" for "Disorders of Sex Development"), but much of what books cover overlaps. Books tend to fall into one of two categories. There are those with a hard science perspective, which take an "expert" standpoint to explain why people are born intersexed and what that shows us about prenatal development, evolution, the role of hormones, etc. Then there are those with an advocacy perspective, that point out that the current medical "treatment" for children born intersex--infant surgical sex assignment--is highly problematic, because it often leads to the sacrifice of sexual sensation, and because the sex assigned at birth can be the wrong one.

What Karkazis does in her book is to bridge the gap between a focus on science and a focus on the experiences of intersex people. She interviews doctors, parents of intersex children, and adult intersex individuals to lay out for the reader their various perspectives. Her basic conclusion is that medical practitioners are ignorant of or dismiss the experiences of intersex adults, which leads doctors to continue to advocate and perform infant sex assignment procedures despite the manifestly negative consequences for many intersex people. She also shows how doctors' stance--that intersex status is a defect, a social emergency that can and must be treated medically--convinces parents to consent to treatments that they often later regret condoning. So Karkazis' findings are in line with books written by intersex advocates. But by including medical information and interviews with medical practitioners, Karkazis shows her readers why the unhappiness of intersex people with treatment they receive has not done much to change medical practice.
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