Alice Dreger, Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Michigan State University and adjunct faculty at the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences, brings us this study of how and why medical and scientific men have construed sex, gender, and sexuality as they have.
Jorge J. Daaboul, M.D.
Director, Pediatric Endocrinology
Children’s Hospital of Oakland
Note: This paper was presented as part of a panel at the annual meeting of the American Association for the History of Medicine, May 19, 2000, Bethesda. Other panelists were ethicist/historian Alice Dreger (Michigan State University) and patient-advocate Cheryl Chase (Intersex Society of North America). Dr. Daaboul can also be seen in the short film XXXY.
Abstract: Until the 19th century medicine had a strong sense of history. Medicine has since lost its reverence for historical precedent. It is my contention that this has had a pernicious effect on the practice of medicine and has been detrimental to patient care. While the technological advances of the last one hundred years have led to increasing precision in diagnosis and therapy, many of the insights and knowledge acquired by our predecessors are still valid. Our headlong rush into technological excellence, however, has obscured those insights and today we find ourselves relearning what our predecessors knew about human reactions to diseases and conditions. A good example of this is the current controversy over the medical treatment of intersex.
Most of the history of medicalization of intersexuality has yet to be investigated. This is pretty close to a complete list of the sources available as of July, 2000.
Some of these books are out of print; if not available at your library, you can often find them available for purchase via ABE Books.
Late Victorian Period
- Dreger, Alice Domurat. 1998. Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Focusing on events in France and Britain in the late 19th century, Dreger takes us inside doctors’ chambers to see how and why medical and scientific men construed sex, gender, and sexuality as they did, and especially how intersexed bodies—when combined with social exigencies—forced peculiar constructions.
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